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Hawley took some personal time and missed Gold Coast, but in Dubai he returned with a couple of tries, including his 30th in IRB play.
“Coming back, one of the things Alex Magleby and I talked about was hitting my stride with no hitch in my step,” Hawley told RUGBYMag.com. “Had a bit of a rough start against Australia, trying to hit the rucks right and a couple of stupid offloads, but after that I felt good. I got my 30th try which I was pretty astonished at. I thought, wow, that’s how it is now. But I felt super confident out there.”
Hawley said he has put on about 15 pounds and feels stronger and more powerful in contact. He said the way the team is starting to play is “easier and harder at the same time. The extra pounds helps out tremendously in the breakdowns and being strong in contact. It gives you more strength and power to break through tackles. That’s really helped.”
The Eagles were 1-4 in Dubai, with three of those losses extremely close. Hawley said it’s easy to get frustrated, but the players know they can’t feel that way for long.
“We’ve been really working on that this is a process here,” he said. “I keep thinking, how would the opposition want us to think? They’d want us to get down. I take the positives. We played them super close. We were in these games, and when you lose a close game it’s rough. But we watched the tapes and we’re all positive about how we’re playing.”
The Eagles have a pool that could be a good one for them – Canada, Portugal and Zimbabwe is an unpredictable pool, but one where they can pull out a couple of wins.
“Watching the tapes there are points where we do more right than wrong,” said Hawley. “There’s always that objective of learning from each game. With this pool, we always look at our opponents. We have to know what Portugal can do and what Canada does. Like I am concentrating on the restarts, and we look at something and think we’ve seen how they set up, how they organize the pods, and we’ve seen it before and we know what we can do. We’re doing that a lot.”