HAWTHORN rookie Shem Tatupu has walked away from the AFL after losing his passion for the game.

The 20-year-old joined the Hawks at the end of 2013 as a category B rookie and played 22 games in the VFL and the VFL development league in the past two seasons.

Hawks football manager Chris Fagan said he understood and accepted Tatupu's decision.

"This has been a tough decision for Shem to make. We have been really impressed with the way in which he has applied himself over the past two years and he has made some positive progress," Fagan said.

"However, after much consultation with the club, Shem has decided that the passion for AFL football is no longer there.

"Shem was a highly regarded rugby league and union player growing up and he is going to explore his opportunities in that area."

Hawks recruiting manager Graham Wright first spotted him playing rugby in New Zealand as a 14-year-old and tracked his progress before inviting him to join the Hawks.

Hawthorn has fellow New Zealander Kurt Heatherley on the primary list in 2016 after two years with the club as a rookie and added Irishman Conor Glass as an international rookie last year.