JACK Gunston's resilience in processing the sudden death of his father has provided inspiration for a young Hawthorn group, coach Sam Mitchell says.
The three-time premiership forward missed two matches to mourn the loss of Ray Gunston, a former AFL executive, after he died of a heart attack on July 5.
Upon returning to Hawthorn's line-up for last Saturday's match against North Melbourne in Hobart, Jack starred with five goals – his best haul since 2019.
After kicking his first goal against the Kangaroos, the 30-year-old kissed his black armband and pointed to the sky in a tribute to his dad.
He has become a leader in the Hawks' changerooms and Mitchell paid tribute to his former teammate.
"It was an emotional couple of weeks," Mitchell said on Wednesday.
"I thought (Gunston) led the way with a lot of our players that sometimes stuff happens in your life and you have to be able to go out and perform regardless.
"Not many bigger things are going to happen in his life.
"So to be able to go through and to be feeling that and to still be able to perform at a high level, I was rapt for him.
"A lot of the guys knew Ray really well and (spent) a lot of time with the family, it hit them pretty hard as well, of course."
Hawthorn (7-11) occupies 13th place and will face St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Saturday as it looks to make amends for a 69-point smashing at the hands of the Saints in round four.