‘He’s not in a great place’: Damien Hardwick reveals First Nations player scandal has taken its toll on Alastair Clarkson, claiming it’s ‘incredibly disheartening’ that the former Hawks boss hasn’t been allowed to defend himself
- Alastair Clarkson is accused of mistreating First Nations players at Hawthorn
- The shocking allegations were in a report prepared by the club
- Clarkson and ex-assistant coach Chris Fagan have denied all allegations
- Fagan has since taken leave from his role as Brisbane coach
- Damien Hardwick said Clarkson was ‘not in a great place’ after accusations
Richmond boss Damien Hardwick described the racism allegations against Alastair Clarkson as “incredibly discouraging” as he revealed the former Hawthorn boss was not “in a great place”.
The AFL was rocked by a bomb scandal two weeks ago, following a report by the Hawks about the treatment of First Nations players at the club during Clarkson’s tenure.
Among various allegations, the four-time premiership winner is said to have told a First Nations player to end the life of his unborn child, a claim he has vehemently denied.
Alastair Clarkson has been accused of bullying First Nations players at Hawthorn
It is also alleged that Clarkson took Sam Mitchell’s phone from him while on a highway trip in 2011, at a time when the Hawks gun was dealing with family issues and his twin babies were often taken to hospital.
The report also alleges that Clarkson publicly announced that the Brownlow medalist would miss a match due to the twins’ health concerns, without consulting Mitchell beforehand.
The AFL has opened its own investigation and Clarkson has refuted the allegations “in the strongest and most emphatic terms possible.”
As a result, Clarkson will have to wait before taking charge of North Melbourne, with his November 1 start date at the Kangaroos being postponed indefinitely.
Richmond boss Damien Hardwick said Clarkson was ‘not in a great place’ after details of the report were leaked to the media and the AFL launched an investigation
Clarkson and Chris Fagan (right) allegedly ran Hawthorn’s football department over ‘bullying and intimidation’ over bomb threat
Both Clarkson and Fagan have categorically denied all charges and said they look forward to clearing their names in the AFL’s independent investigation into the matter.
And Hardwick, who worked as an assistant under Clarkson at Hawthorn, believes the scandal has taken its toll on his former mentor.
‘I know this guy. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s not in a great place, let’s face it,” the Tigers coach said at a WAFL Grand Final function in Perth on Saturday.
“It’s incredibly discouraging and probably a little distasteful to throw that accusation and alleged incidents at you and then splash through the media when you don’t have a chance to defend yourself.
“What we do have to do is work our way through it, get to the other side and hopefully, for the sake of everyone, we grow and learn together.”
Clarkson won four premierships in eight years during an extraordinary spell with Hawthorn
The report also alleges that assistant coach Chris Fagan, player development manager Jason Burt and ex-football boss Mark Evans ran the football department through “bullying and intimidation.”
Fagan, the current Brisbane Lions coach, has denied all allegations but has since taken leave from the club.
Meanwhile, former Hawks great Luke Hodge has launched a passionate defense of the two, claiming that Clarkson “shaped me into the person I am today” and describing Fagan as an “extraordinary mentor and confidant.”