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‘I’d be putting my hand up’: Clarkson considers prospect of coaching a Tasmanian AFL team

Alastair Clarkson says he would entertain the prospect of coaching a Tasmanian AFL club, should the league give the state its own team.

Clarkson, a four-time premiership coach with Hawthorn, is having a year off from full-time coaching in 2022 and one of his projects is to help Tasmania’s push for its own side.

He said a patient approach was necessary, explaining five or six years would be required to establish local talent pathways.

Clarkson said it was crucial a large proportion of the playing group were Tasmanian home-grown products.

The 18 AFL clubs will vote next year on whether Tasmania should have its own team.

Asked on SEN radio if he would consider being the team’s inaugural coach, or playing a significant role, Clarkson replied “without a doubt”.

“Certainly from this far out, if I was unemployed like I am now, I’d be putting my hand up big time to get involved in such an exciting venture,” he said.

“I think it’s a no-brainer.”

But Clarkson also nominated former Hawthorn colleagues Chris Fagan and Brendon Bolton as Tasmanian natives who would have a lot to offer if there was a local AFL team.

He also referred to the experience of expansion teams Gold Coast and GWS entering the league, saying there was a widespread feeling among the clubs that they missed out on too much playing talent to the newcomers at the time.

Unlike Gold Coast or GWS, Clarkson noted Tasmania is a heartland Australian rules state.

“Don’t be impatient, let’s just do it steadily and take five or six years to build up the grassroots, build the fabric of the club,” he said.

“Touch into the very fabric of the Tassie history.

“We don’t want to be a side that just limps into the competition and gets smacked in the first two or three years or first five years of existence.

Clarkson said the AFL should also be focused on having a team based in the Northern Territory.

“I genuinely believe the national competition should be truly national,” he said.

“It’s not a national competition until Tassie are in it and it’s not really a national competition until, dare I say it, the Northern Territory are in it as well.

“That’s [a Northern Territory team] further away. That’s a lot harder, that one.

“Tassie in my view should already have a team in the competition and because it hasn’t, well, let’s roll up the sleeves.”

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Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said he would meet Clarkson next week to further discuss his involvement in Tasmania’s bid for an AFL team.

Mr Gutwein said Clarkson’s involvement in the process added significant weight to the state’s bid.

“Clarko wants to throw his … very considerable weight behind a bid for an AFL licence, and we’ll be catching up again next week, looking at the strategic plan,” he said.

Clarkson is familiar with Tasmanian football, given Hawthorn regularly plays matches in Launceston.

Alastair Clarkson holds the premiership cup
Clarkson won his first premiership as Hawks coach in 2008.(

Simon Moss: AAP

)

He began coaching the Hawks in 2005, before leading the club to its first premiership in 17 years in 2008.

The Hawks won three straight premierships under Clarkson between 2013 and 2015.

Clarkson left the Hawks at the end of this year’s home-and-away season after it was decided he would not see out his contract in 2022 as part of the succession plan involving Sam Mitchell.

Mitchell was to take over as Hawks coach in 2023 but instead will assume the reins a season earlier than planned.

Carlton had chased Clarkson to replace David Teague as its head coach, but the 53-year-old declared earlier this week he was committed to spending at least a year away from coaching.

AAP/ABC

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