Star Hawthorn veterans sign up for 2017

Hawthorn have re-signed veterans Luke Hodge, Shaun Burgoyne and Josh Gibson but there are still plenty of conundrums at the AFL club.

Speculation over the future of stars Hodge, Burgoyne and Gibson – all approaching the end of stellar careers – threatened to be a distraction in the Hawks’ bid for a fourth successive flag.

The club nipped it in the bud on Tuesday, confirming the decorated trio had all signed one-year contract extensions.

The no-nonsense approach is typical Hawthorn, who have recently made a habit of proving doubters wrong.

But rarely have things looked so shaky at the pointy end of the season.

Alastair Clarkson’s side have recorded losses to West Coast and Melbourne in the past three weeks.

The Hawks face in-form Collingwood at the MCG on Sunday in their final tune-up for September and risk tumbling outside the top four if they lose again.

Ruckman Jon Ceglar’s season-ending knee injury will also challenge the powers of four-time premiership coach Clarkson.

“I’m never surprised with what Clarko might come up with,” forward Jack Gunston said on Tuesday.

“It (deciding who to bring in and how to rejig the side without Ceglar) is obviously going to get the coaches thinking.

“But we’ve got full confidence we’ve got the depth and ability to fill that role.

“In the past few years we’ve lost important players and been able to fill them and the coaching staff has been able to adapt.”

The Hawks have surrendered top spot on the ladder and premiership favouritism but Gunston denied recent defeats were cause for concern.

“Not at all. We know what we’re capable of,” he said.

“We’ve played some good footy in patches this year and other times we haven’t.

“You’d like to win the games going in to finals but … it’s (also) a positive. We’d rather play those games now than in finals.

“There’s a few areas we know we can clean up and I’m sure we’ll rectify them on the weekend … we’re a confident bunch and we know how to come out of tough situations.”

Gunston added that the club’s old hands, led by dual Norm Smith medallist Hodge who will enter his 16th season in 2017, played a big part in building that belief.

“They’ve been in these situations plenty of times,” Gunston said.

“We’ve got a lot of younger guys in the team that probably haven’t been here before so I’m sure (they’ll have) little conversations leading into finals.

“How to prepare yourself, how to steel your mind ready for battle.”

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