The Cardiff Hawks men’s and women’s leaders for the 2018 season have been determined by a player ballot, with veteran competitor Simon ‘The Rat’ O’Brien, and veteran supporter-turned player Sheree Vukovich taking out respective captaincy honours.
It will be O’Brien’s second year at the helm of the mens side, after leading the Hawks painstakingly close to the club’s first Black Diamond Cup premiership in 11 years in the 2017 season.
The Hawks fell just 9 points shy of tasting ultimate success to a much more fancied Terrigal-Avoca outfit, in what was a year that exceeded expectations for the club.
“It was pretty heartbreaking to be honest,” said O’Brien reminiscing on the loss. “After the absolute high of the prelim final weekend, getting married to my beautiful wife and then being involved in such an amazing game of footy…to then get so close the next weekend…the whole couple of weeks was personally just such a crazy time.
“I had a couple of restless nights afterwards, that’s for sure.”
But O’Brien, nicknamed ‘The Rat’ by his first coach at Cardiff in 2008 due to a resemblance to former Hawthorn Hawk superstar Johnny ‘The Rat’ Platten, is optimistic about the upcoming 2018 season.
“I can’t wait – it’s gonna be brilliant. The lads and girls have been putting in huge efforts on the track, and the culture around the club is absolutely peaking at the moment. It’s fantastic to see the women’s side growing and getting stronger, and I really think their growth and enthusiasm will have a positive impact on our performance, and the whole club’s performance for that matter, on and off the field.”
Full-time medical student but part-time ball magnet Marcus DeLeur was elected Vice Captain of the men’s side, with Jack Pratt and Bryce Graetz rounding out the leadership group as joint Deputy Vice Captains.
“Marcus is a natural leader,” O’Brien said. “It’s a real credit to his character to be elected Vice Captain in only his second year at the club. Likewise with Brycey, he’s another second year player who’s very quickly earned the respect of the lads., and Pratty…you just know what you’re gonna get out of him, he gives it absolutely everything on game day and is a real asset to our group. We’re in great hands with these boys, and we have a heap of other leaders amongst the wider playing group.
“Things are looking really positive, but the real hard work is about to begin.”
Meanwhile, the women’s side elected Sheree ‘Shez’ Vukovich Captain of the Lady Hawks for the 2018 season. An avid supporter of the men’s side for over 10 years and previous Hawks Committee Member, Vukovich’s election to Captain of the Lady Hawks opens up a new chapter with her beloved Cardiff.
“I couldn’t be more honoured,” Vukovich said. “I was quite taken back at first. But knowing that the girls voted gives me and the other leaders belief that they trust us to lead the team with Hawks pride.
“Season 2018 has no limits. We have no preconceptions, we’re absolutely loving our footy and we’ll give it a really good crack. Look out…we’re definitely the dark hawk of the competition.”
Tough utility player, Sam Kelly was elected Vice Captain of the side, with Abbey Cooksley and Nicola Breward rounding out the Lady Hawks leadership group as joint Deputy Vice Captains.
Round 1 of 2018 Black Diamond Cup competitions kick off for Cardiff at their fortress ‘The Nest’ (Hillsborough Oval) on Saturday April 7 against eternal arch-rivals Newcastle City. Second grade commence at 10am, the Lady Hawks at 12pm and First grade do battle at 2pm.
Best of luck to all Hawks teams in their quest for those crucial first 4 points of the season.