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Young guns have pushed us further: Mitchell

Mitchell ready for Grand Final Sam Mitchell speaks to HawksTV ahead of Saturday's Grand Final with Sydney.
Sam Mitchell of the Hawks in action during the AFL 2014 Second Preliminary Final match between the Hawthorn Hawks and Port Adelaide Power at the MCG, Melbourne on September 20, 2014. (Photo: Sean Garnsworthy/AFL Media)
Sam Mitchell

HAWTHORN star Sam Mitchell says the injection of youth and the return of Matthew Suckling has boosted the Hawks in their quest for a twelfth premiership.

While the Hawks had 17 premiership players take the field in last Saturday’s nail-biting Preliminary Final win, the five others who didn’t experience last year’s Grand Final have played an integral role in taking the Hawks forward this year.

Suckling, Will Langford, Jonathon Ceglar, Taylor Duryea and Matt Spangher all played in the win over the Power but watched on from the stands as their teammates defeated Fremantle in last year’s decider.

The emergence of Langford has been one of the stories of the year and particularly in the last two months as he’s stepped out of his dad’s shadow, Club great Chris, and has made a name for himself as a tenacious and uncompromising midfielder.

There has also been the impact of Ceglar in the ruck that has provided Alastair Clarkson with a ruck conundrum with David Hale and Ben McEvoy and the impressive performances of defender Taylor Duryea throughout the season and particularly the finals.

But Mitchell, a dual premiership player, also paid tribute to the not-so-new faces in Suckling, Bradley Hill and Jordan Lewis who have helped the Hawks reach the Grand Final for a third straight year.

“It’s been great to see some of the development of the younger guys,” Mitchell told hawthornfc.com.au

“It’s been pretty important (the injection of new faces). Particularly Matthew Suckling who played in 2012 but was injured in 2013 and now he’s back, played really well on the weekend and now gets another opportunity.

“Even a guy like Bradley Hill has taken the next step in his footy and even for me, Jordan Lewis has taken his game up another notch, something that you might not have thought possible at the end of last year.”

It has been a remarkable effort from the Hawks to reach the Grand Final after a season of mounting injuries to key players, including Mitchell himself, who missed two months with a hamstring.

There was also the disruption of Coach Alastair Clarkson having to leave his post to recover from a rare syndrome that saw Assistant Coach Brendon Bolton step in for five games.

While those challenges have presented themselves this year, it hasn’t been all doom and gloom.

The Hawks finished second on the ladder and won close games against the Swans and Cats heading into the finals to give the side confidence ahead of September.

But Mitchell says all the positives and negatives will amount to nothing if the Hawks don’t take their chance against the Swans on Saturday.

“We don’t count up all the things that went against us because a lot of things have gone for us as well,” he said.

“We won some games that perhaps we didn’t deserve to win, so some things have gone our way as well.

“So there’s a bit of thankfulness that we’re in the position we are but also the opportunity is there and you can’t take it for granted because you might not be here again.

“There’ll be 22 guys out there but probably 100 or more internally at the Club who’ve made this opportunity and we need to make the most of the chance while we’ve got it.”