Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson insists he will remain at the club until the end of 2022, declaring the succession plan will work.
Clarkson, 53, has more than a year to run on his contract, but speculation abounds that he could quit at the end of this season and deliver an early handover to Sam Mitchell.
Alastair Clarkson says he’s staying at Hawthorn for 2022.Credit:Getty Images
The Hawks this week stunned many in the football industry when they confirmed there would be a formal handover from Clarkson to Mitchell, the four-time premiership great and now Box Hill Hawks VFL coach, after next year’s campaign.
“I’m contracted until the end of next year and I am staying here,” Clarkson said on Friday.
“The only thing that changes in terms of decision-making is to do with some staff and some players and list management and that sort of stuff about [the] future of the club beyond 2022.
“All the day-to-day stuff is still pretty much run by me and I’ll consult with Sam on that, like we always have done anyway.
“There’s plenty of sceptics out there that say: ‘Well, that’s not going to work, they’re two hard-nosed and stubborn lads.’ But tell me a coach that’s not. We will work our way through that. He and I know each other pretty well.”
Clarkson said once the 2022 campaign expired, it was no guarantee he would remain in coaching or even in Australia, explaining that for the best part of the past 45 years his ambition had been to play and then coach in the AFL.
“There is something exciting about wondering what else is out there. I will explore that over the next 18 months and see what that looks like,” he said.
Despite Clarkson’s manager James Henderson publicly declaring Clarkson will fulfil his contract, the Hawks’ move has sparked speculation four-time premiership coach Clarkson will be at another club next year, for Collingwood are on the hunt for a new coach and David Teague (Carlton) and Stuart Dew (Gold Coast) are under pressure.
Rodney Eade, the former Sydney, Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast coach, is among those who feels the succession plan will not work, while coaching godfather David Parkin said he expected rival clubs to pursue Clarkson. The Blues had expressed an interest in Clarkson before Teague was appointed on a permanent basis in 2019.
Hawks president Jeff Kennett has said he will deal with any bids for Clarkson if, and when, they arrive.
The Hawks are rebuilding and Clarkson understands he almost certainly won’t enjoy a fifth flag with a club he turned into a force through his personality, coaching and game-day tactics. But heading into Saturday’s clash against Fremantle, the man considered one of the greatest coaches of all-time still has unfinished business, particularly in terms of fielding more debutants.
“It’s highly unlikely that I’ll be here for securing the next piece of silverware for our footy club but I’ll be enormously excited if I can contribute towards it in some sort of way,” Clarkson said.
“The clear focus for the group is what we can achieve together in the next 30 games or so until the handover happens to Sam, so we’ve got to roll the sleeves up and get to work. If we stay idle in those next 30 games, then it’s been a waste of time. Our whole goal is to be pro-active.”
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