AFL legend Luke Hodge launches impassioned defence of former coaches Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan as Hawthorn racism review set to drag on for MONTHS
- Luke Hodge has publicly supported ex-coaches Alastair Clarkson & Chris Fagan
- Hawthorn great defended both men on Twitter as they face an uncertain future
- Pair are facing allegations of bullying Indigenous players when at Hawthorn
- Clarkson and Fagan deny the allegations, both co-operating with Integrity Unit
- Hawks coach Sam Mitchell also allegedly was targeted by ‘controlling’ Clarkson
Retired Hawthorn champion Luke Hodge has publicly backed former coaches Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan, as they face serious historical allegations of bullying Indigenous players at the AFL club.
Hodge, 38, who won four flags with the Hawks – three as captain – took to Twitter on Saturday to showcase his support for the embattled pair.
Both men have stood down from their roles at North Melbourne and Brisbane Lions respectively until the AFL complete their investigation into the complex matter.
They also strongly deny any wrongdoing.
While not willing to comment on social media about the racism allegations that stemmed from an external review commissioned by Hawthorn, Hodge pointed out his positive dealings with the coaches.
Hodge said along with former player development manager Jason Burt, the trio ‘only ever wanted the best for me and my family’.
Hawthorn champion Luke Hodge has publicly backed former coaches Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan, as they face serious historical allegations of bullying Indigenous players
Both Clarkson and Fagan (pictured) have stood down from their roles at North Melbourne and Brisbane Lions respectively until the AFL complete their investigation into the complex matter – they also strongly deny any wrongdoing
‘Alastair Clarkson shaped me into the person I am today,’ Hodge tweeted of his Hawks coach from 2005 to 2017.
‘Inheriting a bit of a brat from Colac, he was never afraid to give me the honest truths that I needed.
‘At times that was hard to hear but it came exclusively from a place of love and care for me and my future.
‘Then when (wife) Lauren and I started a family, he was the one I turned to.
‘He has always shared his own stories and helped me to be comfortable in my own skin.’
Hodge went onto label Fagan an ‘extraordinary mentor and confidant’ and said the work Burt did to help players transition in and out was footy was ‘tireless.’
In another bombshell development on Saturday, current Hawks coach Sam Mitchell was allegedly a victim of ‘unsympathetic treatment’ at the hands of Clarkson during his playing days at the club.
Clarkson guided the Hawks to four AFL premierships – in 2008 and then from 2013-2015 (pictured, with Hodge in 2014)
Hawks coach Sam Mitchell was allegedly a victim of ‘unsympathetic treatment’ from Clarkson during his playing days at the club – he has yet to respond to the allegation
During the 2011 season, Mitchell’s family suffered health problems after wife Lyndall gave birth to twin girls.
His mother-in-law was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease the same year.
It is alleged a ‘controlling’ Clarkson forced Mitchell and other teammates to hand over their phones when playing an interstate fixture the next day.
At the time, one of Mitchell’s daughters was in hospital with health complaints and he was in constant contact with his wife.
According to The Age, relations between Mitchell and Clarkson quickly became frosty, with Mitchell contemplating a move to rival Collingwood in 2011.
Among the Hawthorn review’s most confronting allegations was that club figures – including Clarkson – once allegedly pressured an Indigenous player and his partner to terminate a pregnancy.
Another wife of a former player alleged Clarkson once came to their family home for dinner.
He is alleged to have made a comment surrounding how clean the house was and allegedly stated ‘you should invite your teammates over for dinner…for all they know you are living in a shack in the desert somewhere.’
Legal experts have forecast the detailed racism probe won’t be resolved before Christmas this year.
If the matter isn’t resolved by 2023, it remains to be seen if Clarkson will be given the green light by the AFL to assume coaching duties at North Melbourne, with Fagan also to be in limbo at Brisbane.