Hawks coach Clarkson leaves hospital

UPDATE: Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson will miss at least four more AFL matches as he recovers from Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Hawthorn chief executive Stuart Fox confirmed that Clarkson was released from hospital on Saturday morning and is walking as part of his recovery.

Fox says Clarkson’s is a ‘‘mild’’ case of the rare autoimmune disease.

The Hawks have confirmed assistant Brendon Bolton will continue to coach the side in Clarkson’s absence.

After the Hawks' nail-biting seven-point victory over the Giants on Sunday, interim coach Bolton said he hoped as a friend that Clarkson was relaxing with his kids with the TV off and not watching the Hawks play. For Clarkson’s health and recovery it would have been wise.

In his first game as stand-in Hawthorn coach, Bolton confronted the reigning premiership team in front of him at three-quarter-time with the awful realisation that this team he was governing was leading last year’s wooden spooners by just a point.

“This game is emotional. I don’t know how he [Clarkson] is thinking, hopefully he didn’t watch it, I hope he is thinking about himself and he is out with his kids,” Bolton laughed.

The Hawks lost David Hale to a quad injury and Jordan Lewis was a late withdrawal with a sore adductor (groin), further depleting the already weakened side.

“Although it wasn’t our best game of footy we were really pleased we showed some resilience and toughed it out,” Bolton said after the Hawks withstood the surprisingly dogged Giants to win by seven points.

“Obviously we have some players we would like to have in the side but we had some people really stand up. Full credit to GWS. I think in their two wins to date their contested possession count was strong in the wet conditions and today they really came to play.”

Bolton said he had spoken to Clarkson during the week but it had primarily been as a friend asking after the coach's health and not about the team he had suddenly been asked to take over coaching. Clarkson had been hands off in terms of advice for the team, Bolton said, other than offering to give advice on the phone if ever he needed it. (Bolton did not pick up the phone to Clarkson from the MCG as the Giants kept at Hawthorn to the end).

“He wants to give us absolute autonomy in the way we go about it. We will be directed by his doctors and his wife as to how much input he has,” Bolton said, adding the week had been challenging on a personal level.

“Obviously it’s been different but exciting. I look at this week as a development opportunity and I look at the coming weeks – if it is to be for more time – as a development opportunity. How good is it to coach your own side?’ he said.

The Giants’ Jeremy Cameron was reported for a clash with Hawk forward Jarryd Roughead. Cameron struck Roughead in the head with a forearm as the pair attacked the ball. Cameron had to go to hospital for X-rays of the arm after the game.

“It’s a courageous effort from Jeremy to continue on playing,” Giants coach Leon Cameron said.

“He just continued to fight his way through it when it happened. I can’t question his bravery, he is a ball player, he has a crack, he puts himself in tough positions because he wants to find the footy.

“Roughy got up straight away, he is tough as well, but they are both ball players. I can’t make a call on [the incident] until I view the replay.”

Cameron said he was pleased with the improved effort after successive losses of more than 100 points, but was frustrated to lose after being so close to winning.

“It’s a game we should have won. I am proud of their effort. Their effort and their energy was terrific from the very first bounce to the final siren, but we lost the game,” Cameron said.

“We had an opportunity to win the game and we lost the game. Good sides find a way like Hawthorn … but I am confident our players will take out of that game that they can compete for longer when their heads are in a good space.

“I would prefer our players have a crack for four quarters and play in a lot more close games than we have in the last couple of weeks.”

This story Hawks coach Clarkson leaves hospital first appeared on WA Today.