Hawthorn’s Alastair Clarkson says he was not having a shot at James Hird or Essendon with his comments about support for AFL coaches.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson is unapologetic about upsetting Essendon with his comments on the Bombers’ supplements scandal.
Clarkson presented to the AFL Commission on Monday and later gave a media interview about the need for AFL coaches to be better prepared for the job.
To illustrate his point, he used Essendon coach James Hird and the Bombers’ troubles over the past year.
Hird is serving a 12-month AFL suspension and Essendon remain under an anti-doping investigation.
Essendon chairman Paul Little predictably hit back on Tuesday, saying Clarkson’s comments were not helpful or informed.
“The boxing gloves are going to be on – I’d respond in that way too, wouldn’t I, if there was someone from an opposition club (making those comments)?,” said Clarkson, who is notorious for his fiery temper.
“I knew that was going to be the response from the Bombers.
“It’s disappointing in a way that you have to bring the Bombers back into it.
“But we need to illustrate the deeper point … how do we better prepare our coaches in footy clubs to do things better?”
Clarkson’s comments have fuelled the fierce rivalry between the two clubs, which will next play in round two.
But the reigning premiership coach insisted he was not having a shot at Hird or Essendon.
“It’s not so much about Essendon or James Hird – it’s that being used as an illustration of how an issue ambushed our game, in a sense,” Clarkson said.
“Had we had some measures in place, that could have been a little bit stronger in terms of the preparation of a coach … then maybe we’d all be in a better position to have more chance of success and stay in our roles.
“It is (an issue) that really brought to attention just how significant is the role of a coach and a football department in shaping the lives of young men.
“We need to look at how we can do things better.”
Clarkson wants a combination of an accreditation system and more experience for coaches before they take senior AFL jobs.
He also referred to sacked Brisbane coach Michael Voss, saying it was a shame the Brownlow Medallist is in his late 30s and now no longer directly involved in the game.
“It’s a very, very demanding role – it’s very different to even 10 years ago, when I first started,” Clarkson said.
He also spoke about the damage that sacking a coach can do to a club.
“Some clubs take a long, long time to recover from the trauma of exiting a contracted coach much more prematurely than what they initially thought,” he said.