Mitchell stays loyal to Hawks
Mitchell stays loyal to Hawks

Dual Hawthorn premiership star Sam Mitchell is set to shun free agency again in 2014 with a new deal to be finalised by the end of the month.

And Nic Naitanui has given his strongest indication yet that he is ready to sign a contract extension to keep him at West Coast beyond this year.

Mitchell, 31, is understood to be on the verge of signing a new one-year contract with the club, his third short-term deal in as many years.

With Mitchell locked away early, the Hawks are set to go into the season without a major free-agency target on their list.

Fellow midfielder Brad Sewell is out of contract in 2014 but will trigger a one-year extension if he meets certain criteria.

The situation is a welcome one for Hawthorn, who had to put up with the circus surrounding free agent Lance Franklin last season. Questions over Franklin's future dogged the club in 2013 before he defected to Sydney on a nine-year, $10 million deal after the grand final.

The loss of Franklin was a blow for the club but it freed up room in the salary cap, allowing the Hawks to recruit St Kilda ruckman Ben McEvoy and retain a sizeable war chest to use on free-agency targets of their own at the end of this season.

Naitanui, All-Australian ruckman in 2012, comes out of contract this year and is likely to command a deal worth almost $1 million a season. Quoted on the AFL website yesterday, he said he wanted to be an Eagle for life.

"I'm not going anywhere, I'm staying at West Coast," he said.

"I love it there and I'll be there for the rest of my career, fingers crossed."

Collingwood's Dane Swan took himself off the table after signing a new two-year deal with the Magpies last week, but the 2014 free-agency pool still remains strong.

At the head of that pool is Fremantle midfielder David Mundy, who emerged as a key target for clubs after playing a significant role in the Dockers' run to their maiden grand final appearance last year.

The 28-year-old was the most influential midfielder on the ground in the decider against the Hawks, finishing third in the Norm Smith voting behind defender Brian Lake and forward Jack Gunston.

Mundy, who was recruited from country Victoria, was linked with Essendon and Hawthorn when he was last out of contract in 2010 and is sure to attract greater interest this time.

His management declined to comment yesterday.

"I love it there and I'll be there for the rest of my career, fingers crossed."" *Nic Naitanui * on West Coast

The West Australian

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