Pre-season training standout Ben Stratton has emerged as a key to help an ageing Hawthorn maintain their AFL dominance in 2016, captain Luke Hodge says.
The Hawks were expected to finally show a sign of vulnerability next year with key players such as Hodge and Sam Mitchell now in their 30s.
But Hodge said Stratton had impressed most at a 10-day pre-season camp on Queensland's Sunshine Coast and expected him to help spark the three-time defending premiers in 2016.
"Ben has always been a hard worker," Hodge told AAP.
"Guys get older but ... we have a middle key group that have played a lot of games now like the Ben Strattons ... they are able to take a lot of responsibility."