Alastair Clarkson has declared his “sincere intention” is to have a year off from coaching but says a final decision won’t be made for a couple of weeks.
Clarkson, after 17 years in charge, completed his final weekly press conference on Friday at a windswept and wet Waverley Park, where he and Shaun Burgoyne took a trip down memory lane ahead of their final match in Hawthorn colours, against Richmond at the MCG on Saturday.
Hawthorn greats Alastair Clarkson and Shaun Burgoyne on Friday, ahead of their last outings for the club.Credit:Getty Images
Burgoyne is heading into retirement although is likely to have an important role to play in Indigenous affairs off the field, while Clarkson has a key decision to make.
The four-time premiership coach has been linked to the Collingwood coaching vacancy, and to potential openings at Carlton and the Gold Coast Suns. Ross Lyon, who also has support to replace David Teague, admits the Blues’ job will be Clarkson’s – should he want it.
However, Clarkson, who will be paid out the final year of his contract with the Hawks worth about $900,000, having been replaced by Sam Mitchell, could also take the year off – something he said he was seriously considering.
“I am a little bit embarrassed to talk about it to be fair because whatever has been said in the last three or four weeks has changed so much. Whatever you say, you just can’t take it as gospel,” he said.
“My sincere intention, at this point in time, and has been for the last four to six weeks, now that I am no longer coaching Hawthorn, I want to have a spell from the game and to see what that rest will do for me, whether it will reignite some real passion to get involved in the game again or actually take the opportunity to go overseas.
“It’s a little bit difficult at the moment given the [pandemic] environment … take the opportunity to go overseas and explore some things, do some things that my wife and I have never done before because we have been so heavily involved in footy and see where the next chapter of our life takes us.”
The Suns – and AFL – could also come calling if it’s felt it’s time to move on from Stuart Dew after another disappointing season.
Amid a tumultuous few weeks earlier this month, Clarkson, 53, had insisted he would coach the Hawks next season as part of a succession plan, only for that to change a week later when he said he was leaving the club.
As he reflected on his next move, Clarkson, a former Port Adelaide assistant, on Friday drew Burgoyne, a four-time premiership player, including one with the Power, into the conversation.
“Even though it’s a little precarious what’s going to happen next for us both, we are both really excited about what the next chapter might bring. Some of that chapter for me, and the same for Shauny, it’s an enormous demanding role to play the highest level or coach at the highest level for a long period of time,” he said.
“Part of that excitement for us both is, just have a spell for a little while. That spell, in my case, might be for 12 months or two years and it might be that it’s forever. I don’t know. I need to get into the next few weeks and just see where that all pans out for me.
“We have loved our involvement with this footy club and prior to that with Port Adelaide.”
For Burgoyne, Saturday’s clash will be his 407th and final match, a journey which has seen him become one of only five men to play 400 or more matches. He is expected to have a role as an Indigenous ambassador at Hawthorn, while the AFL could also come calling with a bigger-picture project.
“I am looking forward to, obviously, the break. I won’t miss the skin fold tests or the time trials … but I will miss the change room stuff, the banter, the pre-season camps where you get to bond and hang out with the players,” Burgoyne said.
“I am unsure what the future holds in terms of, I have got to replace the void that footy is going to leave. I have had a longer career than I expected, I have got to transition.”
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