Mitchell closes on Ablett record
FIRMING Brownlow Medal contender Tom Mitchell is on the cusp of creating more history this weekend when he has the chance to join Geelong champion Gary Ablett as the only men to have 40 or more disposals in four consecutive matches since Champion Data began recording statistics in 1999.
Hawthorn's Mitchell, who is vying for Brownlow favouritism with last year's winner Dustin Martin, has already broken the game disposal record this year, having 54 disposals in Round 1.
And last year he amassed the highest possession tally for a player (787) in a home-and-away season - a record he could topple himself after having 136 in the first three games of 2018.
Another 40-disposal game against the Demons on Sunday would make him and Ablett the only men to do it four games in a row, albeit Ablett's streak went from the final round of 2011 to Round 3, 2012.
But the Hawthorn possession magnet insists he doesn't care about external plaudits or breaking individual records, saying all he is thinking about is beating Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday.
Asked about the Brownlow Medal, for which he is second favourite at $4.50, behind Martin on $4, with the TAB, but favourite with several other agencies, Mitchell said: "It's not something you are focused on ... it is more of an external factor.
"We had a disappointing loss on the weekend. Richmond were too good for us and we know what we need to improve on."
Mitchell, who turns 25 next month, is likely to have already racked up a maximum nine Brownlow Medal votes this year.
Given he polled 25 votes, behind Dustin Martin (36) and the suspended Patrick Dangerfield (33) last year, betting agencies have slashed his odds after his 54, 40 and 42 disposals in the first three weeks.
He says he never knows how many possessions he has had when he comes off the field, saying he is too focused on doing his best for the team to worry about individual accolades.
"I didn't actually have any idea until someone mentioned it to me," he said about his 54-disposal performance against Collingwood in the opening round.
"It is obviously not something you go into a game trying to achieve. More importantly, on the night we had a good win.
"There is too much going on in a game to worry about that sort of stuff."
Mitchell worked extensively over the off-season to improve his disposal efficiency, which had attracted slight criticism.
It has made him a more complete player.
"I don't really look at the numbers too much, but working on my skills is something I always try to do," he said.
"This pre-season was no different, working on my skills by hand and by foot, so hopefully that has transferred (to the games)."
Mitchell is thriving on having more responsibility in his second season with Hawthorn, after joining the club from Sydney at the end of the 2016 season.
"It has been great that Clarko (coach Alastair Clarkson) showed a lot of faith in me and has given me an opportunity," he said.
"He has taught me a lot as a player with his guidance."
He is working well with the club's in-form ruckman Ben McEvoy, as well as his housemate and fellow midfielder Jaeger O'Meara, who is playing good football after overcoming a serious knee issue.
"We missed (O'Meara) a lot last year and he has come in and played some good quality footy," Mitchell said.
Mitchell has a lot of respect for the Demons' midfield ahead of Sunday's game, saying they are one of the most effective outfits in the competition.
"They have got a great midfield with guys like (Clayton) Oliver and (Dom) Tyson and (Jordan) Lewis," he said.
"We are going to have our work cut out."
MITCH'S PITCH FOR MORE HISTORY
Since Champion Data started recording statistics in 1999, only one man - Gary Ablett - has recorded 40 or more disposals in four consecutive matches
Gary Ablett's quaddie
Round 24, 2011 vs Hawthorn - 43
Round 1, 2012 vs Adelaide - 43
Round 2, 2012 vs St Kilda - 40
Round 3, 2012 vs Essendon - 45
Tom Mitchell's trio
Round 1, 2018 v Collingwood - 54
Round 2, 2018 v Geelong - 40
Round 3, 2018 v Richmond - 42
Round 4, 2018 v Melbourne ?????