The man set to take over as Hawks captain
Hawthorn star midfielder Jaeger O'Meara is poised to replace premiership stalwart Ben Stratton as captain next season.
O'Meara, 26, is the clear frontrunner to take over from Stratton and has been seen as a future captain since he arrived from Gold Coast in 2016.
The former Sun was named co-vice captain alongside Brownlow Medalist Tom Mitchell this season, ahead of fellow leadership group members Ben McEvoy, Isaac Smith, Liam Shiels and Jack Gunston.
Smith is in doubt to take on West Coast on Sunday with a shoulder injury.
Stratton, a triple premiership hero, has battled form issues in defence this year as Hawthorn prepare to adopt a youth policy for the remainder of the season.
While the club would be reluctant to drop its captain, president Jeff Kennett has declared the time has arrived for the ageing Hawks to promote their young talent.
Stratton, 31, is out of contract at the end of the season after signing a one-year deal to play on as skipper in 2020.
The skipper said it had been a challenging year for the Hawks who need a miracle to play finals as they prepare to take on West Coast and Port Adelaide over the next fortnight.
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"We are in a little bit of a hole and it was compounded a little bit by the quarantine and being away from family and friends," Stratton said.
"But you have got no choice but to fight it out and that's what we have done. I'm really proud of the guys.
"We have been trying our guts out."
Stratton was scrutinised for his pinching tactics in defence last year and said he had enjoyed thinking outside of himself and more about other younger players.
"I have learned heaps and enjoyed most of it," Stratton said.
"Some parts of the caper of being captain you feel a bit more pressure, but it has been enjoyable for the most part.
"Speaking to a lot of other players who have been in similar position as captain and trying to sponge off them - they all said you take a year to sort of warm into it and then you are a lot more confident as captain.
"So I had that year of sussing things out and then I was ready to take on the second year and now we are on the road."
O'Meara has been lauded internally for his leadership, team ethic, professionalism and dedication behind the scenes since overcoming a career-threatening knee injury at the Suns.
The Hawks re-signed him to a lucrative long-term contract extension last year as he continued his excellent season, finishing third in the best and fairest.
The 100-gamer is seen as the perfect man to take over from Stratton and help guide the Hawks through a challenging transitional period which will continue next season.
Football manager Graham Wright underlined O'Meara's lofty standing at the club when he recommitted.
"He's become such an important player for us, not only through his on-field performance but also from a leadership sense as well," Wright said.
"He sets a great example for his teammates with his professionalism and work ethic.
"We're excited to watch his continued development over the coming years."
TIME FOR YOUNG HAWKS TO SHINE
Will Day, 19 (Pick 13, 2019)
Looks like an outstanding prospect who can use his polish in a variety of positions. Played five games already and should be picked every week. Will become a go-to man in the midfield as he matures.
Finn Maginness, 18 (Pick 29, 2019)
Father-son midfielder is a running machine and knows how to rack up big possession numbers. Wins his own footy, too. Nice size at 189cm. Had some eye-catching moments over summer.
Josh Morris, 18 (Pick 57, 2019)
Mid-sized forward has already been given a taste, playing three games in Rounds 6-8. Smart around goals but will have to add tools to round out his game.
Changkuoth Jiath, 21 (Next generation academy)
Athletic defender looked a promising prospect in his two matches last season. With James Frawley and Ben Stratton nearing the end, there is a chance to prove himself at AFL level. Hurt his hamstring earlier this season.
Damon Greaves, 20 (Pick 13, 2019 rookie draft)
Hard nut defender made an impression in the pre-season with his physicality and confidence in congested situations. Backs himself with the ball.
Emerson Jeka, 18 (Pick 8, 2020 rookie draft)
Raw and exciting West Australian key forward has huge potential if his athletic attributes can materialise on the field. Can dazzle in the air, but has to develop his game understanding.
Ned Reeves, 21 (Supplemental selection period selection)
208cm ruckman is developing along the same lines as most young big men. Can use the ball nicely for a ruck prospect but is continuing to build his body and fitness in the gym.
Conor Nash, 22 (Category B rookie elevation)
Speedy tall forward offers a different dimension up forward with his athleticism and busy pressure game. Developing.
James Worpel, 21 (Pick 45, 2017)
Could have hardly been more impressive winning the best and fairest stepping up for Tom Mitchell onball last season. Tough and courageous in congestion, the Hawks have locked him away on a contract extension. Has not yet had the same impact this year but the whole midfield has been down.
Oliver Hanrahan, 21 (Pick 14, 2017 rookie draft)
The 181cm small forward has the chance to take over Paul Puopolo's forward pocket position but has been in and out of the team. Has shown potential around goals but clearly needs more time. Hawks played Jarman Impey in a similar role over the past fortnight.
Dylan Moore, 21 (Pick 67, 2017)
Small midfield-forward has shown he can use the ball well and create play for his teammates. Still developing his frame for AFL level.
Harry Morrison, 21 (Pick 74, 2016)
Outside midfielder has won double-digit possessions in each of his seven games this season. Has shown glimpses throughout his four seasons after racking up 25 disposals in his 2016 debut.
Mitchell Lewis, 21 (Pick 76, 2016)
Looked like Hawthorn's most promising young forward prospect as he took over from club great Jarryd Roughead last season. The talented golfer is able to take a strong contested mark and bagged three hauls of three goals in 2019. However he has been unable to have the same impact this season with one goal from four games. Hawks want him to work off his man.
Originally published as The man set to take over as Hawks captain