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Hawks overcooked? Mitchell prepared to take the risk

3 minute read

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell hopes a tough week on the training track will pay dividends against North Melbourne, but he is wary his methods could backfire.

SAM MITCHELL.
SAM MITCHELL. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell admits he might have "overtrained" his players in an old-school preparation for the high-stakes clash with fellow AFL battlers North Melbourne.

But he believes it's a risk worth taking in a bid to force a response out of his winless team.

Mitchell ramped up the intensity on the track this week despite consecutive six-day breaks over the previous fortnight, which culminated in a horror 53-point smashing from Gold Coast.

The Hawks have the chance to atone when they face the Kangaroos at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, with both sides carrying a 0-5 record into the contest.

"We do some physical training every week and there's been a little bit of extra competitiveness among that," Mitchell told reporters on Friday.

"We've had two six-day breaks in a row, so there's potential that we might have overtrained in that time.

"But we certainly know that going into this game confident in the work you've done was something that we prioritised over the physical freshness of the group."

Mitchell will go head-to-head with former mentor and Hawthorn coaching predecessor Alastair Clarkson for the second time, having won their only previous duel last year.

The personal battle follows a messy coaching handover between the pair, which led to four-time premiership tactician Clarkson leaving the Hawks in 2021.

"Every week you look at the opposition team, you look at the opposition coach, what they like to do, how they like the game played - and this week's no different," Mitchell said.

"I'm sure (Clarkson) is looking at our stuff, looking at my theories, and I look at his. It's the same as every week."

Mitchell swung the axe with three changes to his side, dropping Josh Ward, Max Ramsden and Sam Butler for returning trio Harry Morrison, Jai Serong and Jack Gunston.

Veteran forward Gunston will start in attack after featuring in different roles at VFL level last week.

"We're looking forward to having him just set us up with a little bit more leadership," Mitchell said.

"We just lacked a couple of wise heads last week to handle the pressure that (the Suns) brought and the consistency of it, so I think having an extra wise head out on the field will be helpful this week.

"He'll start in front of the ball, and we know that as a rotation he can play just about anywhere on the field."

North Melbourne got Cameron Zurhaar back after an ankle injury and recalled Will Phillips, with George Wardlaw (managed) and Hugh Greenwood (omitted) left out.

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