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"I’ve never seen Hawthorn leak like this": Wilson stands by Hawthorn coaching comments


Caroline Wilson has staunchly stood by her reporting of the Hawthorn succession plan situation.

On Monday night, Wilson reported that following a meeting involving Alastair Clarkson, Sam Mitchell, Leading Teams’ Ray McLean and senior club leaders, those who left that meeting felt Mitchell wished to be senior coach in 2022 and would prefer Clarkson move on.

This despite all parties agreeing to a succession plan, with Clarkson in charge next year and the understudy taking over in 2023.

Mitchell came out strongly on SEN’s Whateley on Wednesday, denying the report.

“Absolutely not. That has not happened. We’ve been working on some form of succession plan for such a long period of time, if you’ll do me the privilege, I’ll explain how long ago this started and how it’s still all on track. There’s still plenty to work out of course,” Mitchell said.

“Everyone talks about that meeting like it was a one-off or the only time we’ve ever met. I heard some of the media reports talking about it and it’s like, if you’re in an organisation like Hawthorn, you are going to have all of these discussions all of the time and if you all agree on everything, then what’s the point having so many people doing it?

“You have to have people with differing views all of the time. Part of what happened on that particular meeting … we caught up, everyone knew we were doing it, and at the end of that meeting we did not have every answer, which would be plain for anyone to see that if you’re working through something this big, it’s a continual work in progress.

“Everything we are working towards is Clarko coaching next year and me maintaining the role which I love working with these young fellas and watching them progress and now a heap of them are getting games at the moment and I’m absolutely loving that.”

Wilson however stands by her comments.

“I’m completely confident of my sources,” she told Footy Classified on Wednesday night.

“Why on Earth would I make something up? Why would I put my reputation on the line knowing that people at this meeting were going to come out and have their say?

“It is absolutely possible that Sam did not say ‘I want to coach next year and I want you gone’, I never reported that.

“What I did say was that people left that meeting with the impression that Sam Mitchell would rather be the senior coach next year and I’m sorry, but it is not Sam’s 100 per cent desire to coach in tandem with Alastair Clarkson next year.

“It might be today after meetings have been held since that meeting and I might add that some of those meetings have been held without Alastair Clarkson present, which would not normally happen.

“It is just patently not true for Sam to say there are not leaks coming out of Hawthorn. I’ve never seen Hawthorn leak like this.

“And Sam should be very careful about what he says about his premiership coach as I’m hearing back that he’s been saying to people at that football club, that he should just be careful.”

Former Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has sympathy for Clarkson in this whole situation.

“It’s unedifying and if there was serious pushback, I think both Sam and Alastair would have done something together today,” he said.

“There was only one party in that meeting that has spoken about Caroline not saying the truth. It’s deafening on the other side, the silence.

“I really feel for Alastair. When he signed the four-year deal, there was no mention of a succession plan.

“It’s been thrust on him in a short period of time and the respect to say we had a 20-minute meeting to plan it out says it all about this arrangement and I cannot fathom what Alastair has been put through.”

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