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I'll be a leader, title or no title, says Mitchell

Tom Mitchell leads the field at Hawks training - AFL,Tom Mitchell,Hawthorn Hawks
Tom Mitchell leads the field at Hawks training

REIGNING Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell says he doesn't need an official leadership role to feel he is contributing to that cause at Hawthorn.

Jarryd Roughead's decision to step down as captain ahead of what could be his final season has presented opportunities for a number of senior Hawks to take on more responsibility.

Vice-captains Isaac Smith and Liam Shiels appear the most likely candidates to replace Roughead, but Mitchell wasn't part of the leadership group at all in his first two seasons at Waverley Park.

"It doesn't really faze me too much. Titles don't mean anything, really," Mitchell told reporters on Monday.

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"As long as you're contributing in that space (and) playing a part; you're helping others around you get better, helping the guys younger than you get better, then that's all you can do.

"You still always want to be yourself, and everyone leads in different ways, and I always want to try and lead by example on the park.

"There are other ways you can lead, and I'm learning from guys like Isaac Smith and Liam Shiels and working with all the coaches as well, (on) how I can develop as a leader.

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"The more leaders we have on board, the more guys we'll have driving the group, the better we'll be as a team."

Mitchell officially returned to training last week, but made an early appearance in mid-November with the club's first-to-fourth-year players after arriving back in Melbourne from overseas.

The 25-year-old's leadership was on display on that day and he also put to bed any doubt that the right AC joint injury he suffered in the finals loss to Melbourne would hamper his pre-season.

"The shoulder's good. I've had about eight or 10 weeks' recovery time now, so I don't think it's going to affect me at all," he said.

"It's feeling good on the track and in the gym, so I'm not worried about it.

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"I've started contact stuff – we did a little bit today – and it isn't affecting me and the medical team is right on top of it, so they've done a great job of looking after it."

Mitchell has enjoyed his early interactions with fellow Brownlow medallist and new midfield coach Sam Mitchell and is keen to see what the relationship can do for his football.

"He was a pretty special player, so I'm looking forward to working with him," he said.

"He was a really smart player when he did play and his coaching speaks for itself as well, from the time we've had with him.

"He was someone who was a strong leader at the club and also a highly skilled, highly driven player.

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"His mentality and the way he approached the game and some technical parts as to how he uses his hands and feet are some things I'll sit down and discuss with him when I get the chance."

Mitchell said he was more aware of Hawthorn's capabilities entering the 2019 season after bouncing back this year from missing the finals in 2017.

"We draw confidence on a top-four finish last year and playing two finals, although we lost them both," he said.

"A few guys hadn't even played finals before, so I think we're only going to be better for that experience and hopefully we can keep building this year."