The AFL free agency period has officially begun, with Adelaide Crows defender Jake Kelly and Richmond Tigers tall Mabior Chol the first players to find new homes for 2022.
Outgoing Hawthorn mentor Alastair Clarkson has not completely shut the door on coaching another AFL club as he weighs up his future beyond this season.
Clarkson will lead the Hawks for the final time in Saturday’s meeting with Richmond at the MCG, having agreed to hand over the reins to assistant Sam Mitchell after 17 seasons at the helm.
The 53-year-old four-time premiership coach is the biggest name on the market as Collingwood continue their search for a new coach, having parted ways with Nathan Buckley in June.
Carlton are considering the findings of an external review of their football department and could be seeking a replacement for under-pressure coach David Teague, while Clarkson has also been linked to struggling Gold Coast – where his former Hawks flag star Stuart Dew is under contract.
Former Fremantle and St Kilda coach Ross Lyon, who led both clubs to grand finals, has made it clear he would consider an approach from the Blues.
Clarkson was reticent to discuss his own future at a press conference on Friday and indicated he is keen on taking a break from football, but conceded that outlook is open change.
“I’m nearly a little bit embarrassed to be talking about it, to be fair, because whatever has been said in the last three or four weeks has changed so much,” Clarkson said.
“Whatever you say, you just can’t take it as gospel.
“But my sincere intention right at this point in time – and has been for the last four to six weeks now that I’m no longer coaching Hawthorn – I want to have a spell from the game and just 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 … and do some things that my wife and I have never done before because we’ve been so heavily involved in footy.”
Clarkson will consider his options after the Richmond encounter brings Hawthorn’s season to a close, but emphasised his plan is to step away from the game for a period of time.
“It might be 12 months or two years, and it might be that it’s forever, I don’t know,” Clarkson said.
“I need to get into the next few weeks and just see where that all pans out for me.”
Clarkson and Hawthorn veteran Shaun Burgoyne will bid farewell to the club at an empty MCG, with fans still barred from attending matches during Melbourne’s COVID-19 lockdown.
The Hawks have won their last three matches in a strong finish to the season but are out of finals contention, while Richmond are also destined to miss the September action for the first time since 2016.