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To tag or not to tag; that is the question

Pre-R5: Clarkson Press Conference Alastair Clarkson spoke to the media ahead of the clash with the Roos.

Hawthorn is relishing the expected move from North Melbourne to send tagger Ben Jacobs to its prolific ball-winner Tom Mitchell. 

Mitchell has been in outstanding form to start the season, averaging 40 disposals per game to lead the competition in that category.

He also ranks No.1 for average inside-50s, clearances and contested possessions.

However, coach Alastair Clarkson said on Friday that move would help his side get the better of the contest.

"It makes it easier for us, in a sense, but having said that, he (Mitchell) can also make a good contribution when it's just head-to-head in the middle of the ground too," Clarkson told reporters at the Ricoh Centre on Friday morning.

"We don't really mind one way or the other, but certainly it's not a case for us where if he gets tagged, we're thinking 'Oh jeez, we're in all sorts of trouble'.

"As long as he's disciplined about it, which he was last week, it can be a real benefit for our side."

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The two sides clash at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Melbourne co-captain Nathan Jones was sent to Mitchell last week and kept the Hawk relatively quiet (by his lofty standards), although he still managed to pick up 24 disposals and 14 clearances.

However, Hawthorn overcame an early deficit to post a 67-point victory.

"He made a contribution for us and what's more, he gave our side more flexibility because when there's a guy tagging from the opposition, it can allow you to manipulate things around stoppages a bit more and manipulate space and who else is going to get the ball," Clarkson said.

"That worked really well for us last week, despite him not getting 40 touches, which is what everyone in the outside footy world wants to perhaps see, he probably played just as important role for us as he had in the first three games of the season."

The Hawks will be without small forwards Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo, who have succumbed to left knee and right hamstring injuries respectively.

Clarkson is wary of a Roos outfit that sits 2-2 and has dangerous forwards Ben Brown and Jarrad Waite.

"If we allow them to generate 50-60 inside-50s, then we're not going to be able to stop Brown and Waite, I don't think," Clarkson said.

"I don't think any club in the competition will if there's that amount of inside-50s.

"If we can keep that supply down a little bit, then that will go a long way towards us trying to win the game."

Clarkson gave no hint about who would make the final 22, with the squad to be trimmed on Friday evening, but credited Ryan Burton for an impressive performance against Frankston, which saw him accumulate 24 disposals and two goals despite lining up in defence.

Meanwhile, hamstrung champion Shaun Burgoyne is set to return next week against St Kilda.

"He'll have this week off as well," Clarkson said.

"It's hard when you lose Rioli and Puopolo and you know you've got Shaun there and you're looking at him training going 'Surely he could play this week'."

"Both in his mind and probably Andrew Russell's, he could (play) at a stretch, but at this point in the season, we don't want it to be a stretch. We want him to be fully right.

"He'll return to the side next week."

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs