Alastair Clarkson makes an extraordinary move to avoid a tense feud with Sam Mitchell and Hawthorn

Sam Mitchell has avoided adding fuel to the fire ahead of his much-anticipated AFL coaching duel with Alastair Clarkson.

And Clarkson has revealed he will go to extraordinary lengths to do the same.

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Saturday’s game between Hawthorn and North Melbourne in Launceston will mark the first time they are senior coaches in the same game.

Mitchell is in his second season as Hawks coach, while Clarkson has taken over the Kangaroos after leading Hawthorn to four premierships.

They’ve had a tumultuous history, with Mitchell’s autobiography detailing how the couple met and sorted out some differences in late 2011 when he was a Hawthorn star.

Sam Mitchell and Alastair Clarkson do their best to avoid headlines ahead of Hawthorn-North Melbourne clash Credit: Getty Images

Mitchell was originally scheduled to take over from Clarkson at Hawthorn in a coaching succession plan.

But that plan failed spectacularly, and Clarkson left the Hawks a year early in late 2021. His relationship with the club has deteriorated even further since Hawthorn became involved in the racism scandal.

In an incredibly awkward moment, the teams and coaches decided to share a charter flight back to Melbourne after Saturday afternoon’s game.

But Clarkson scrapped the plan.

“We have a charter flight coming back together. So I’m not going to jump on that flight, I’m going to get on another flight,” Clarkson told reporters Thursday.

“I just don’t think it’s a bad idea for us to be on a plane together given the investigation I’m involved in with Hawthorn.

“Just because of COVID it suddenly (teams sharing a flight) became a great idea.

“But we’ve actually said for a long time that we no longer believe the races should be held together just because of the emotions of what could happen if two teams are eliminated at half time and at the end of the game, so let’s separate them.”

Mitchell also played a straight racquet at Thursday morning’s media conference call.

“I know you’d love a big quote about Mitchell and Clarkson and all that stuff, but I’m the manager of this football club, that’s my priority,” he said.

“That’s enough to fill my cup right now, so I’ve got enough on my plate.”

Mitchell acknowledged that he was not unfamiliar with the added importance of this game.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about it at all, watched the opposition, seen what they’re doing and seen why they’re doing it,” he said.

“You scout it like you would any other game, you just might have a little bit more insight into the coach’s thoughts.”

He added that there had been no contact with his old coach before the game, also noting that this was nothing unusual.

– With AAP

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James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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