Hawks skipper Sicily happy to carry hard baggage

James Sicily has learned to carry what he calls the baggage of having a reputation as an AFL hothead.

When Sicily scuffled with teammate Sam Butler in an intraclub hit-out last month, of course the media zeroed in on the incident.

But the reality is that while the Hawks' key defender was fined twice last season for on-field incidents, it has been several seasons since he was last suspended.

Sicily will never be a choir boy on the field, but his outstanding 2022 season demonstrated his capacity to channel that aggression properly.

"I'm quite comfortable with where it sits, in terms of people's perception of me and white-line fever," he told AAP.

"I understand that whenever I do something, it's going to be 'there it is', but it's not necessarily the case.

"But it's the bed I made and I just have to deal with that."

He said the scuffle with Butler was a sign of how determined the young Hawks are to improve as they go through a rebuild of the list under coach Sam Mitchell.

"I feel like all the physicality and our teammates is because of how close we are as a group - it's like fighting with your little brother," he said.

"You never want your little brother to beat you, but when he does, you get the shits."

Sicily also is happy to not take a backward step off the field, either.

One example was a radio interview with All Australian selectors Kane Cornes and Nathan Buckley in the last few weeks.

Sicily was considered very unlucky not to make the final All Australian team last year after his stellar form.

When Cornes and Buckley asked him how he felt about not making the final 22, he did not shy away from the discussion.

"I think they were a bit rattled by that - they were probably expecting a straight bat. I thought stuff it, I will give it to them, a bit of tongue in cheek," he said with a grin.

Sicily is among a big group of new AFL captains this season, and he is honoured to lead the Hawks after serving as acting skipper for much of last season.

"How do I feel - a mixture of things - excited, privileged, nervous, scared, a wide range of emotions," he said.

"I did want it. I had no leadership aspirations as a kid or when I started playing footy.

"When I got to Hawthorn, I never thought I'd be a captain. But over time, you feel a sense of responsibility.

"You want to do it and you (feel like you) could do it."

Hawthorn's season starts on Sunday week against arch-rivals Essendon at the MCG.