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HAMILTON — Their season-opener in Toronto might be two months away, but the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are ready to show the rest of the CFL that last year’s result was in no way representative of what the team is truly capable of.
“It’s our year, it’s our time to turn it around,” said receiver Andy Fantuz last Friday as his Tiger-Cats wrapped up their three-day mini-camp at McMaster University’s Ron Joyce Stadium.
Taking a look down the Ticats’ roster, there’s no doubt the team has all the tools necessary to be a force in the East Division and even league-wide.
An elite quarterback? Check. A big-play receiver? Check. A dangerous running back tandem? Check. A revamped defence looking to prove itself? Check.
Most importantly, however, is Hamilton’s new coaching staff, which according to veteran DB Ryan Hinds is one that is ready to take charge.
“I’m really liking the way the coaching staff sets the tone. I think it’s a much different atmosphere than last year and I think it’s welcomed.” said Hinds.
“They expect a lot but they know that it’s going to take (some time) to get there. That kind of family atmosphere makes guys want to play for their coaches. They’re doing a really great job and we’re definitely going to buy in,” he added.
“Even from the first opening speech, we got that sense of culture that (head coach Kent Austin) is going to bring to this team,” he said.
“He’s got that confidence that beams off him and is easy for us to grab a hold of and ride with him.”
All this positivity from a three-day mini-camp? Austin says his players’ willingness to buy in makes his job easy.
“I’m really pleased with the effort of the guys and their attention to detail. It seems like we have a good group of character guys that want to be good,” said Austin.
“That’s more than half the battle,” he added.
With training camp just over a month away, last week’s mini-camp was an opportunity for Austin and his staff to get to know their players on a personal level, as well as evaluate them both as a group and as individuals.
“We’ll start to do some evaluations, we’ll start to piece the puzzle together a little bit tighter now,” he said.
With the mini-camp in the rear-view mirror, Austin will not substitute his coaching hat for his general manager lid.
“We’ve got to prepare for the Canadian Draft, make sure we have our board in order properly.”