LUKE Hodge has impressed Box Hill coach Chris Newman in a VFL practice match against Essendon at Tullamarine on Saturday.
On a warm and windy day, Hodge played mainly as an onballer but also spent time in attack and defence. He sat out the final quarter.
Hawthorn's leadership group banned the former captain for round one after Hodge failed to notify the appropriate officials he would not be turning up to a training session.
Newman told AFL.com.au it was always intended for Hodge to play limited game time.
"Always planned, just to see how he'd handle the three quarters," Newman said.
"Obviously it's a pretty hot day too. We were really pleased with how he performed and he's been outstanding since he's been back."
No stats were taken, but Hodge was constantly involved in the contest. His class was especially apparent in the third term, when he directed a forward where to lead and nailed him perfectly with the kick.
Newman praised Hodge's attitude in his time at VFL level, with a call-up expected for Hawthorn's round two clash against Adelaide next Saturday at the MCG.
"He's an outstanding individual and his attitude the last couple of games has been second-to-none," Newman said.
"He's really helped the younger guys. He's been vocal (and) embraced a lot of the younger guys he might not have known before."
Box Hill was held scoreless in the last term while kicking into the wind but held on to win, 13.13 (91) to 13.9 (87).