Mitchell plays straight bat ahead of Clarkson duel

Sam Mitchell has avoided pouring any more fuel on the fire ahead of his much-anticipated AFL coaching duel with Alastair Clarkson.

Saturday's Hawthorn v North Melbourne match in Launceston will be the first time they have been 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 have a turbulent history, with Mitchell's autobiography detailing how the pair had to meet and thrash out some differences in late 2011 when he was a star Hawthorn player.

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

But that plan spectacularly fell apart and Clarkson left the Hawks a year early in late 2021.

Whatever his feelings about going up against Clarkson, Mitchell played a straight bat at Thursday morning's media conference.

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

"That's enough to fill my cup at the moment, so I have enough on my plate.

"I don't worry too much about the coach of the opposition and most of the coaches know each other at some level. It's not too different this week."

But Mitchell conceded he was not ignorant about the extra significance of this match.

"I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about it at all, watching the opposition, seeing what they do, and seeing why they're doing it," he said.

"You're scouting it the same as every other game, you just potentially have a little bit more idea about the mind of the coach."

Mitchell added there had been no contact with his old coach ahead of the game, also noting that is nothing unusual.

"I'm new to coaching ... but I've noticed that even when you're really close with a coach, it sort of goes to radio silence a week or two before you play them," he said.

Mitchell is in the midst of a full-blown team rebuild and his side have started with two heavy losses.

By contrast, the Kangaroos are flying under their new coach with two wins.

"I won't tell you too much (of) what we've seen about North, obviously, but they're really organised," Mitchell said.

"You would expect that under Clarko - you know what they're going to do, they know what each other are going to do.

"He's done a really good job ... to get predictability (with) each other in one pre-season and two rounds is a really good start.

"It's not different to what we would have expected from him."