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Hawk walks: Suckling off to the Dogs, Schoenmakers re-signs

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 3: Matthew Suckling of the Hawks in action during the 2015 Toyota AFL Grand Final match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the West Coast Eagles at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on October 3, 2015. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Matt Suckling has signed a three-year deal with the Western Bulldogs
It's with a heavy heart I'm going to leave, but I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my life
Matt Suckling

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HAWTHORN has lost its fifth player to free agency, with dual premiership player Matt Suckling accepting a three-year deal from the Western Bulldogs.

But the Hawks have held on to big man Ryan Schoenmakers, who has signed a new two-year deal just days after playing in his first flag triumph.

Four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson regretfully announced Suckling had exercised his rights as an unrestricted free agent at the club's best and fairest count on Saturday night.

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The booming left-foot kick will link up with former Hawks assistant coach Luke Beveridge at the Bulldogs.

"This has been the toughest decision of my life," Suckling said.

"I've spent a third of my life here, it's all I know at the moment, so to make the decision today to walk away is something that growing up that doesn't sit comfortably with me to turn my back on someone that's given so much to me as this football club. 

"So it's with a heavy heart I'm going to leave, but I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my life."

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Clarkson praised the 27-year-old for fighting through adversity to win two premierships.

"Matt has made a valuable contribution during his nine years at the Hawthorn Football Club and he can be very proud of his achievements, departing as a dual premiership player," Clarkson said.

"He is very popular member among players and coaches and we wish him well for the future."

Western Bulldogs CEO David Stevenson said his club was thrilled to have convinced Suckling to come to the Kennel.

"His decision to join the Western Bulldogs is a fantastic reflection on our club, our people and our future direction," Stevenson said. 

Bulldogs list manager Jason McCartney was delighted to add a player of Suckling's experience to a list that currently contains only five 100 game-plus players. 

"Matthew's exciting and daring brand of football will really complement our style of play," McCartney said.

Suckling played 102 games for Hawthorn and was a popular premiership player in 2014 after bouncing back from a knee reconstruction.

He was the starting substitute in Saturday's Grand Final triumph over West Coast, gathering eight touches and snapping goal in the 46-point triumph.

"This is a guy that has committed fully to his footy club and his journey. He hasn't had it easy at any stage, but he's played over 100 games for our club and he's a two-time premiership player at our club," Clarkson said.

"But more importantly, he was a terrific teammate to those who represent our footy club on game day, so thanks 'Suckers'."

The 27-year-old joins Lance Franklin (Swans), Xavier Ellis (West Coast), Tom Murphy (Gold Coast) and Clinton Young (Collingwood) to walk out of Waverley as a free agent.

Brendan Whitecross is also an unrestricted free agent who is yet to sign a new contract with the Hawks.

The Hawks have attracted two free agents since the system's introduction in 2012 - Jonathan Simpkin from Geelong and ex-Demons defender James Frawley.

Meanwhile, Schoenmakers has confirmed his commitment to the Hawks despite strong rival interest.

The 24-year-old turned down offers during last year's NAB AFL Trade Period after missing out on last year's Grand Final and was rewarded for his persistence by a first premiership medallion in the win over the Eagles.

Despite fears he would be dropped for the season-decider, Schoenmakers held his spot and collected 21 touches and booted a goal.

The Swans were Schoenmakers' main suitors this year as they looked to strengthen their key position stocks, but the 95-game swingman will remain at the Hawks until at least the end of 2017.

"We're delighted that Ryan has re-committed to the club for at least the next two years," recruiting and list manager Graham Wright said.

"His form over the 2015 season was ultra consistent and culminated in a fantastic finals series, helping the club secure its 13th flag and his first."