HAWTHORN star Cyril Rioli says the Hawks will enter the new season with revenge in mind.
Speaking yesterday on the Sunshine Coast, where the Hawks have gathered for a week of intense pre-season training, the gun forward admitted the players were still hurting over the side's narrow preliminary final loss to Collingwood last season.
Hawthorn will immediately get the chance next season to at least partially exorcise the lingering pain of that defeat, having drawn beaten grand finalist Collingwood in the opening round.
That match will be followed by a round-two encounter against reigning premier Geelong.
This week, retiring Hawks president Jeff Kennett challenged the Hawks to win the 2012 premiership.
Rioli said the players were up to that challenge.
He said they were left "gutted" by the preliminary final loss and hoped to use the memory of that defeat to drive them throughout 2012.
"We've got that gut (painful) feeling of losing to Collingwood, and hopefully that helps us over the pre-season and takes us over the year and hopefully gets us that one step further (to winning the flag)," he said.
"That's (winning the premiership) our aim every year but like we said, to lose to Collingwood still burns."
Hawthorn, the 2008 premier, is once again being spoken of as a serious title contender and Rioli says the players are "excited" about the team's chances in 2012.
"I reckon we're up there (in the premiership mix)," he said.
"We didn't lose to Collingwood by that much and we've got a few new draftees and hopefully that can help us next year."
Rioli, 22, nominated new rookie recruit Amos Frank as a Hawk to watch next season.
Frank, who has come to the club from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, in far north South Australia, is a fleet-footed midfielder who many believe will rival Rioli for excitement value.
"He's (Frank) quick, he's agile, he can kick left and right (foot)," the 79-gamer said.
Rioli expects Geelong to once again be tough to beat.
"They've lost a few players, but the past couple of years they've been a strong team and I'm guessing they'll still be strong … you can't doubt them," he said.