HAWTHORN may not have an AFLW side but there'll be a distinct brown and gold leadership influence on one team in particular in the 2020 season.
St Kilda is one of the four new clubs to join the NAB AFLW competition next year, and its squad features four ex-Hawks, including three who have captained the club at VFLW level.
Throw in former premiership coach Paddy Hill, who will be a senior assistant to Peta Searle and also lead the Saints' VFLW side, and it'll be a mighty fighting team who go marching in next year.
Whether by accident or design, the quartet of Hawthorn players – Melissa Kuys, Emma Mackie, Tamara Luke and Rosie Dillon – will add significant leadership to the fledgling AFLW side.
Mackie joined from the Western Bulldogs in a trade, Kuys' career was reignited as a delisted free agent after three years at Collingwood, while Dillon (pick No.24) and Luke (33) were taken in the NAB AFLW Draft.
Kuys originally came through the Knox pipeline, with Box Hill taking on the eastern suburbs club's VFLW licence in 2017 and appointing the hard-running midfielder as captain.
She stuck with the rebranded Hawthorn in 2018, choosing not to play with her AFLW side Collingwood, before moving to her new AFLW side's affiliate Southern Saints for the 2019 season.
Mackie took over where Kuys left off, captaining the side to the 2018 VFLW flag in her second year at state level.
A former elite road cyclist who represented Australia, Mackie has crossed from Dogs at AFLW level to join a club in St Kilda she grew up supporting.
The midfielder has elite endurance and will be a tough body around packs.
Luke was the Hawks' third captain in three years, leading the side in 2019 when Mackie chose to play her VFLW football with the Saints.
She's quite a different player to running machines Kuys and Mackie. An aggressive key position player, Luke leads from the front with strong hands above her head.
An intuitive footballer, she's excellent at creating space for herself and has proven to be a tough player to bring down in a tackle.
Small inside midfielder Dillon has done it the hard way, having been passed over in several drafts with her fitness levels being an issue.
She is a fierce tackler and strong ball-winner with good speed away from packs.
It is expected the Hawks are still several years away from their own AFLW side, given the recent CBA set out player payments and the length of the seasons until the end of 2022.
The existing broadcast deal with the Seven Network and Fox Sports also expires at that same time.
Until that happens, the Hawks are determined to provide a pathway for AFLW hopefuls keen to promote their wares.
Chantella Perera was recently drafted to West Coast while Talia Radan (also to the Eagles) and Jordan Membrey (Collingwood) spent a winter at Waverley before finding their way back on AFLW lists.
Youngsters Serena Gibbs (Carlton) and Laura McClelland (Richmond) played a few games each for the Hawks following their under-18 NAB League season with Eastern Ranges.
"While we're hopeful the Hawks will have our own AFLW team in the near future, our goal in the meantime has been to create an elite environment that mirrors an AFLW program," Hawthorn football operations manager Rob McCartney told the club website.
"We want them to be able to come to Hawthorn, fast-track their development within our professional environment, before hopefully being picked up by an AFLW club."