Mitchell wants three more years with Hawks

Young at heart: Hawthorn superstar Sam Mitchell, in Launceston on Thursday, says he still feels like he's 25.
Young at heart: Hawthorn superstar Sam Mitchell, in Launceston on Thursday, says he still feels like he's 25.

SAM Mitchell, another of Hawthorn's superstars off contract this season, has opened discussions with the club and hopes to play for at least another three years.

Mitchell, as is the case with champion forward Lance Franklin and skipper Luke Hodge, is a free agent this season and could expect rival clubs to pounce should he look elsewhere. But the four-time best and fairest winner wants to remain a Hawk and would like a new deal clinched as soon as possible.

''My manager, Peter Lenton, has started to talk to [football operations manager] Mark Evans about it all,'' Mitchell said on Thursday.

''It's probably not at the point where I get involved and say my thoughts on it yet.

''I would like to have it done. You would like to at least get the ball rolling, especially when you have a family to look after.''

Mitchell, 30, had arguably his finest season last year, averaging 27.2 disposals per match and lifting his efficiency rate to 75.2 per cent.

Having won the Peter Crimmins Medal in 2006, '09 and '11, he polled in 21 out of 24 matches last season for 172 votes and fended off midfielder Brad Sewell and defender Grant Birchall.

He was the only player in the league to record an elite kicking rating by Champion Data.

''I still feel 25. I still train every session, I don't have sessions off. I still do everything that is asked of me,'' Mitchell said.

''My age might say I am 30 but I don't feel 30. I will keep playing for a long time if it's up to me.'0'

As he relaxed at the team hotel in Launceston after visiting the local Royal Guide Dogs Association as part of the Hawks' community camp, Mitchell remained hopeful that Franklin would remain at the club next season in a new long-term deal.

Franklin has put negotiations on hold until the end of the season and is set to test the free-agent market despite the Hawks offering what is believed to be a four-year deal worth more than $1 million annually.

''At the end of the day, he is contracted until the end of this year. Hopefully, he signs again after that but it doesn't have anything to do with me,'' Mitchell said. ''I don't talk to him about his contract, he doesn't talk to me about my contract.''

It's understood Franklin told teammates last season he was not interested in returning to Perth to live. The Dockers, having missed out on Travis Cloke last season, have room in their salary cap to offer Franklin a major contract.

Hodge, having undergone stabilisation surgery on his left knee, continues to make a steady comeback, although Evans has said the skipper could miss the opening month of the home-and-away season.

''He looks fit and is doing a lot of boxing, a lot of bike. He has started to do a little bit of skills with us now,'' Mitchell said.

''If we train for two hours, he might do the first 15, 20 minutes with us and then go off and do his own running.''

The Hawks want Hodge to be healthy later in the season when it is hoped they will again be challenging for a top-four spot.

This story Mitchell wants three more years with Hawks first appeared on The Age.