Damien Hardwick isn’t a fan of fellow AFL premiership coach Adam Simpson’s preferred “cooler” terminology to describe a brief, hard tag placed on an opposition player who is running hot.
Instead, the Richmond mentor says he’ll look to put a “clamp” on Tom Mitchell if the Hawthorn ball magnet starts racking up too many touches through the midfield on Sunday.
Mitchell was back to his prolific best in round one, playing a key role in engineering the Hawks’ stirring come-from-behind win over Essendon.
The 2018 Brownlow Medal winner had 17 disposals in the third quarter alone as the Hawks piled on eight goals to one.
He finished with 39 disposals – his highest tally since returning from a broken leg that kept him out of the entire 2019 season.
The dominant performance put Hardwick and the Richmond brains trust on notice ahead of their meeting at the MCG.
“Cooler is probably not the term we’ll use but I understand what (Simpson) is saying,” Hardwick laughed this week, before taking a more serious look at the threat posed by an in-form Mitchell.
“I think sides will generally implement something of that nature.
“The third quarter (Mitchell) really dominated against Essendon and at that stage is probably where you’d look to put a clamp on him.
“We’ll back in our players, us versus them, and try to (contain) the damage that he can do, but the fact of the matter is sometimes good players get really out of control and you do have to put a clamp on them.”
Hawthorn have their own headaches trying to formulate a method of stopping red-hot Dustin Martin, who picked up where he left off from last year’s grand final by tearing Carlton to shreds in round one.
Martin presents a major hurdle for a regenerating Hawks outfit as they attempt to take another step forward in their development.
“Trying to curb Dustin is one of our many challenges that we’ve got to confront on Sunday, but we’ve got a young group and we’re in a different phase in terms of where we’re at as a footy club,” Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said.
“We’re excited to measure ourselves against the benchmark of the competition of the last four or five years and see how we measure up.”