CHAD Wingard has credited Hawthorn's recent trip to Kokoda with helping him become more ingrained in the club's culture following his off-season move from Port Adelaide.
A group of 16 – made up by members of the club's playing group, as well as its coaching and backroom staff – recently returned from the nine-day trek in Papua New Guinea.
Wingard was one of Hawthorn's new players on the trip to the region where one of Australia's most significant World War II battles occurred.
The two-time All Australian said it was the perfect way to make him feel part of the Hawks.
"It was a fair way to start," Wingard said.
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"I didn't know what to expect coming in, but the best thing about it was to get to know the young boys. I think 15 boys went on that trip, so when I came in (on Monday) I already knew half the group. It made the welcome and the transition into training a lot smoother.
"It was a rewarding experience. It was one of those things that you don't think about it until it's finished. Then you can really appreciate it."
It was Hawthorn's sixth trip to Kokoda, with Wingard revealing that coach Alastair Clarkson made the journey as challenging as possible.
"It was definitely tough," Wingard said.
"Clarko had some challenges up his sleeve that we weren't expecting, but it was really good.
The boys really stuck together and that's what it's all about, team bonding. We made sure everyone got through and we really got to know each other and the coaches.
"Having (assistant coaches) Sam Mitchell and Darren Glass come on board and do it with us, to get to know them was really worth it as well."
A familiar face made the trip to Kokoda with Wingard, with his former Port Adelaide teammate Jarman Impey also doing the trek for the first time.
Impey made the move to Hawthorn a year earlier than Wingard, with the pair living together in Melbourne as the latter settles into his new surroundings.
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"We've done a lot of pre-season camps together," Wingard said.
"For him to be able to support me when I didn't know too many people … if you've done Kokoda, it can be mentally draining. You need that support from each other.
"After the first day you realise that, that you need each other to get through, so having Jarman there was just awesome."
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