Mitchell learning from AFL’s best

Emerging Sydney midfielder Tom Mitchell admits he’s profiting from the presence of Sydney’s more established AFL on-ball stars.

Mitchell will line up at Etihad Stadium on Sunday against Carlton, the club he grew up supporting.

Standing alongside him in the on-ball trenches will be Josh Kennedy, Kieren Jack, Luke Parker and Dan Hannebery.

All bar Parker have won All Australian honours and Hannebery, the reigning AFL Coaches Association player of the year, is the only one of the quartet not to have won a club best and fairest, though he finished second last year.

“I’m in a very fortunate position, I’ve got some of the best midfielders in the comp, who I’m standing alongside at training and playing alongside,” said the 22-year-old Mitchell.

“‘Joey’ Kennedy, Dan Hannebery are probably (among) the handful of best midfielders in the comp, so they are really helpful with me and give me a lot of pointers.

“They are the guys who can get the attention, they are the star players, so it’s nice to learn off them and help them out when I can as well.”

Ball magnet Mitchell’s stocks are definitely rising and he’s becoming more than just a support act.

After battling injuries and struggling to force his way into the team earlier in his career, Mitchell appears to have entrenched himself in the Swans’ best 22.

He played 19 of the last 20 games in 2015, missing one with an eye issue.

Mitchell averaged 27 possessions a game in 2015 and started this season with 30 touches and an equal career-best three goals against Collingwood.

“It was great to have a full pre-season and just work on my overall game,” Mitchell said.

The Swans meet Carlton for the second time in just over three weeks, having beaten them by 22 points in a NAB Cup match last month.

“I don’t think we brought our best effort when we played Carlton in the NAB Cup, so we’re going to try and rectify that this week,” he said.

Mitchell spent most of his early years around the Blues because of his father Barry, who spent over a decade playing and coaching there after nine seasons with the Swans and one at Collingwood.

“I grew up barracking for Carlton and hung around the changing rooms a bit when I was a kid,” Mitchell said.

“But obviously I love Sydney now.”

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