Prized Hawthorn recruit Emily Bates has had an instant impact at the Hawks, according to teammate Jas Fleming.

Bates, who won a premiership and a League best-and-fairest with Brisbane before crossing to the Hawks ahead of the 2023 season, set the tone in her first season in the brown and gold.

With a season at the Hawks now under Bates' belt, Fleming can see the impact she has had on the young group in terms of driving standards.

"It's really interesting to now look back – this time last year was around the time when she came in, and I think a lot of things changed instantly. I think the first training she came in, she definitely showed the standards and what was needed to be at the AFLW standard," vice-captain Fleming told

"Alongside a lot of our older players who have played a lot of AFLW, she has helped support a lot of the younger group to learn those standards and also drive them.

"Now, we're getting to the stage where she's always holding those standards, but a lot of the younger girls are now coming through and feeding off that, which is really cool to see."

It’s Bates’ experience and competitiveness, along with new coach Daniel Webster, that’s driving the next phase of Hawthorn’s development: Learning how to win the close ones.

The Hawks were victorious in three of their 10 games last season, which was the same tally the year prior, their first in the competition.

But three of the seven losses were quite winnable: an 11-point defeat by a Richmond side which over-ran the young Hawks up in Cairns, a nine-point loss to St Kilda and going down to Fremantle by 13.

They also led eventual premier Brisbane at half-time, before the Lions flexed their muscles.

"I think really knowing how to win is where we'll improve," Fleming said.

"There were a couple of close games where it could have gone either way, whether we won or we didn't. Having competitors in the team – especially 'Batesy' (Bates) and 'D-Web' (Webster) coming in and definitely showing that competitive side, that's something I know we will work on.

"Knowing how to win and making sure in those 'do or die' moments in games – now that a lot of us have had two seasons under our belt, we're more comfortable with knowing what to do in those situations."

Fleming's ongoing back concern – dating back in part to her cricket days, where she was a fast bowler, like father Damien – is well in hand ahead of her third AFLW pre-season.

"It's actually pretty good. I haven't had too many issues this off-season, really. I think some people just carry issues around their whole career, but my back seems to be going pretty well, and it's nothing structural," Fleming said.

"It's really just tightness. So I need to stay on top of it with hands on (work) and exercises to keep it strong. But it hasn't stopped me from training at all this off-season.

"I'm focusing on strengthening the lower back and the core, doing lots of Pilates still, that's probably the main thing. And then just trying to get general strength in my glutes and legs and upper body to support the back. I think I've really built on a base from last year, so now I'm feeling much stronger and capable."