HAWTHORN premiership defender James Frawley has called time on his AFL career.

Frawley retires after 139 games for Melbourne, where he was an All-Australian in 2010, and another 100 for the Hawks.

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The 32-year-old joined Hawthorn as a free agent after the 2014 season and formed a lethal backline alongside Josh Gibson, Brian Lake, Ben Stratton, Grant Birchall and Shaun Burgoyne.

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The Demons received pick three in the 2014 NAB AFL Draft as compensation for losing Frawley and selected Angus Brayshaw with it.

Frawley, the nephew of late St Kilda full-back Danny, won a premiership in his first year at the Hawks, which completed a flag three-peat for the club under Alastair Clarkson.

He was pivotal in the 2015 Grand Final, holding West Coast spearhead Josh Kennedy goalless on the day.

Frawley joins Stratton, Paul Puopolo, Ricky Henderson and Conor Glass in retiring from the sport since Hawthorn's season ended. 

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He thanked his wife, Kasey, as well as his friends, family, teammates and coaches for their support throughout his playing career.

Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson paid tribute to the "significant" contribution of the man nicknamed 'Chip'.

"His capacity to negate the influence of the opposition's most potent key forwards was clearly evident in our 2015 premiership campaign," Clarkson said.

"Across his career, he has been reliable and disciplined; using his speed and strength to great effect.

"His country background and humility endeared him to all, especially his teammates, many of whom will be lifelong mates."