Sam Mitchell has dismissed the hype around Ryan Crowley’s potential AFL return, with the Hawthorn star determined to prepare normally for Friday’s preliminary final.
Crowley is eligible to play for Fremantle in their home preliminary final against the Hawks after serving a year’s doping ban .
If the Dockers tagger makes a shock return, Mitchell would be one of his most likely opponents.
“Every week there’s some discussion about players being in and out,” Mitchell said.
“I know that it is a sexy story from a media point of view, but it does really mean very little to the players of either team, I’d imagine.”
Mitchell was asked if he would plan specifically to face Crowley as an opponent.
“That’s really the coaches’ role, not mine,” he said.
“My job is to prepare my mind as best I can to make sure I’m ready to play, regardless of whether’s that on Nat Fyfe, or David Mundy, or Lachie Neale, or Michael Barlow, or Nick Suban, or Ryan Crowley.
“There are so many players it can be.
“You’re probably going to spend bits and pieces on all of those guys.
“You do the same due diligence that you do every week.”
Mitchell will be one of Hawthorn’s most important players on Friday night, with the winner going into the grand final.
The star onballer won his third All-Australian selection on Tuesday night.
He doesn’t think it’s worth reading anything into the last time the two teams clashed.
Hawthorn belted Fremantle in Launceston by 72 points in round 15, when the Dockers were cruising with a 12-1 record.
“They were really playing for not much,” Mitchell said of Fremantle.
“They’ll be playing a fair bit different, their motivation level (was) probably not quite as high as when you’re playing in a prelim on your home deck.”
Hawthorn are doing it the hard way in this finals series as they try to win their third-straight premiership.
Their away qualifying final loss to West Coast meant two Perth trips in three weeks.
But they showed they are far from spent, belting Adelaide in their semi-final by 74 points.
The game was over at half time and Mitchell is unsure whether the tame ending to last Friday night’s match will help or hurt the Hawks.
“I’m like a punter in that sense – part of me says that playing a little bit light for the last quarter and not going on those long, hard runs that you might have if the game was closer … that’s good for your legs,” he said.
“Part of me says that’s a risk, because quite often you can start the next game the way you finished the last one.
“So I’m 50-50, I don’t really know.”