A NEW era at Hawthorn is bringing out the best in some big-name Hawks, with Luke Hodge training like a teenager and superstar forward Cyril Rioli enjoying a stellar pre-season, according to fitness guru Andrew Russell.

With long-time teammates Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis starting afresh at rival clubs, Hodge and Rioli find themselves in the midst of a transition period at Waverley. 

But that has only spurred the four-time premiership stars to lead by example this summer.

"The attitude of guys like Luke Hodge, it's like he's in his first or second year in the program he's that motivated right now," elite performance manager Russell told hawthornfc.com.au.

"Funnily enough, Cyril has had his best preparation since he's been at the club – his motivation is as good as I've ever seen it." 

Having put hamstring woes behind him, Rioli snared a career-best 47 goals last season and secured back-to-back All Australian gongs. 

Meanwhile, Hodge, 32, remains the standout candidate to captain the Hawks in 2017, with the results of the player vote yet to be announced.

However, with vice-captain Lewis and Mitchell departing, the Hawks' next generation of leaders are taking on more responsibility to drive the club forward. 

"Jack Gunston and Isaac Smith have gone to another level … Taylor Duryea has had his best preparation by a long way since he's been at the club," Russell said.

Smith won the Hawks' second pre-season 2km time trial last Saturday, with fellow emerging leaders Ben Stratton and Liam Shiels also securing podium spots.

Former No.2 draft pick Jono O'Rourke continued his impressive off-season by coming in fourth ahead of Dallas Willsmore.

"We had 16 players run PBs (personal bests) and the guys that didn't were very, very close," Russell said. "So we were really pleased with it."