HAWTHORN has confirmed one of its favourite sons is returning to the club, with Sam Mitchell signing on as an assistant coach for the next three years.
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The Brownlow Medallist and four-time premiership star departed Waverley Park in 2016 to extend his playing career by one season at West Coast in a deal which would see him transition into an assistant coaching role this year.
Mitchell was contracted to spend a further two years working under Adam Simpson at the Eagles but expressed a desire to return home earlier this year for family reasons, West Coast eventually deciding to let him have his wish.
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“I’m really excited to return to Hawthorn, a true family club, and it feels really special to get back to the place I spent 15 years of my playing career,” Mitchell said.
“Perth is a great place, but it became apparent that with the heavy travel commitments, and living in an isolated city away from our support network, was not conducive with a young family. I spoke to West Coast mid-year and explained my intention.
“Craig Vozzo (Eagles football boss) was so supportive and we worked together to ensure that this would not be a distraction for the players. I am glad we did, as finishing my two years at West Coast with a premiership was a special experience.”
Hawthorn general manager of football Graham Wright said the club was thrilled to have Mitchell return.
“Sam has been a huge part of the Hawks family over many years and we know he will bring a great deal to our club as a coach, like he did as a player,” Wright said.
“We know our players will learn a great deal from Sam and we look forward to having Sam, wife Lyndall and their children Smith, Emmerson and Scarlett back at Hawthorn.”
Mitchell, 36, served as captain of the Hawks from 2008-2010 and played in the club’s 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015 premierships during 307 games in the brown and gold before playing a further 22 games for West Coast in 2017.
He was a joint winner of the Brownlow Medal in 2012 alongside Richmond’s Trent Cotchin and won five best-and-fairest awards at Hawthorn.
Mitchell joins Scott Burns, Darren Glass, Chris Newman and Adam Yze as the assistant coaches who will be working under Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn next year.