Sam Mitchell and Trent Cotchin, two AFL champions, enhanced their standing within the game after being awarded their retrospective 2012 Brownlow Medals on Tuesday.
The duo averaged 27 disposals in 2012 and collected 26 Bronwlow Medal votes, but they share similarities beyond what is measurable through stats that have helped them become successful players.
Former Tiger, Saint and Hawk Adam Pattison played with the pair during his seven years in the AFL system and outlines why the Brownlow Medallists have become such great players.
Both Cotch and Mitch, while different players, share some similarities on and off the field.
For starters, they both have a low centre of gravity. Cotch’s ability to accelerate from picking up a ground ball is the best of anyone I’ve played with, while Mitch’s ability to extract the ball by hand from a contested situation is elite.
Hand to foot speed and decision making are also why they’re so great. They don’t possess Chris Judd or Patrick Dangerfield-like speed but they’re both fast at releasing the ball.
Mitch has his hips and feet turned and ready to kick before he has the ball in his hands. This has become so symbolic that some clubs have termed that style of kicking the “Mitchell kick”, where they teach players to swivel their hips on the mark rather than immediately moving back for space. This is in order to move the ball even quicker and catch opposition out defensively.
Cotch, on the other hand, can hit those short kicks better than anyone in the competition.
Their professionalism is elite and they’re both great trainers — if I had to pick one, I think Cotch is probably better on the track but I only spent a year at the Hawks and Mitch spends a lot of his downtime kicking balls at peoples heads!
They both hate losing and live professional lifestyles in every aspect of the game whether it’s recovery, injury management or weights.
I remember when Cotch trained with us as a 16-year-old as part of the AIS program and he won our pre-season beach activities. He out wrestled senior players such as Brett Deledio, Mark Coughlan and Matty Richardson in spider man crawls on the sand — he was a man-child which is reflected through his hairy body despite his baby-face features.
When Cotch came to the Tigers in 2007, I thought he had been professional athlete for 10 years. He’d been through all the academy systems and was ready to go physically by the time he landed at Richmond.
Off the field, they both lead very balanced lifestyles and are family men. They both have children and therefore tell a lot of dad jokes and live pretty mature lives — some would even go as far as calling them boring!
But to finish off, they’re both great leaders and are at their best when they engage in banter in the physio room at the club.