HE MAY be proud of his players, and happy to bank four points, but new Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell won’t be revelling in the glory of a debut victory.
The Hawks came from behind to overcome a gallant North Melbourne on Sunday, handing Mitchell the perfect start to his coaching career.
But when asked how satisfying the 20-point round one win is, Mitchell praised his side and put it into perspective.
“I was really proud of the boys’ effort - I thought the effort and intensity around the ball for the whole game was really strong. We didn’t perhaps get as much reward for effort as we would’ve liked for a lot of the game, but they really deserved the win in the end, just with the amount of effort we put in for a consistent four quarters,” Mitchell said.
“I think that their level of belief hasn’t wavered. I spoke to them during the week and said, ‘we might win this week and everyone will be saying Hawthorn is on the march, or we might lose and it’s been they’ve got no hope, they’re going to win the wooden spoon, etc, etc’. And neither one of those things will be true.
“It’s never as good or as bad as it seems.”
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The Hawks will be looking for a perfect 2-0 start for the first time since 2018 when they travel to Adelaide to take on the Power on Saturday night.
“The next 24 hours, we get to enjoy what we did over the last three hours,” said Mitchell.
“But from four o’clock or thereabouts tomorrow, we’ll be looking forward and starting to figure out how we can beat Port Adelaide.”
Mitchell will be without ruckman Max Lynch for the Port clash, after the former Pie was concussed in Sunday’s triumph.
“He had to go home, they (medical staff) said he was starting to get a bit of a headache and a nose thing, so I guess with concussion it’s one of those things that we don’t take any risk with and don’t try to push at all,” he said.
“I haven’t spoken to him just yet, but my understanding is he’s a bit sore and battered the poor guy… we’ll take our time getting him back.”
Chad Wingard, who almost always wore long-sleeve jumpers during his seven seasons with Port Adelaide, took immediate advantage of his new coach's lack of a ban on non-traditional guernseys.
Former coach Alastair Clarkson had a famous rule that every member of a Hawks team he led had to run out in a traditional jersey.
"Chad wanted to wear a long-sleeve (jumper) and it's not something I spend too much time thinking about," Mitchell said.
"My take on it is I want the players to be able to express themselves.
"Whether Chad wants white hair, have tattoos and wear long sleeve jumpers, if that's going to give him the best chance to feel like himself, to give him the chance to perform at his best then I'm not going to get in his way.
"Anyone who wants to wear different things that are within the AFL rules then I quite enjoy it.
"I think the fans like it and I like the long sleeves."
North coach David Noble said the Roos needed to capitalise when they had the game on their terms during the second quarter.
“I was a bit disappointed, but also really encouraged. We were 21 points in front… had we been a bit cleaner with the ball, we might have been able to stretch that out,” he said.
“We’ve got to be careful and we’ve got to be balanced in how we approach it.
“I thought they showed some really good signs; when we got the ball, the way we wanted to move it.
“We probably had the game on our boot for a lot of the length of the game, but they took their chances and we probably didn’t.”
Noble was full of praise for No.1 NAB AFL Draft Pick Jason Horne-Francis, who showed glimpses of brilliance in his 13-disposal, one-goal debut.
“Yeah, [he was] terrific… just the balance of midfield time and forward… he can actually add some firepower for us down forward, but he will want to play all of his game in the midfield," he said.
“He showed some real class at times; he was clean off the deck, his power to come away from a contest to get to the next one… yeah, it was pretty impressive.”
North will be missing key defender Ben McKay (concussion) for its round two clash against West Coast on Saturday night.
“He’s fine, I don’t think he’s unwell, as far as a concussion; he’ll just fall into the normal protocols,” Noble added.