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Clarkson to hand over the coaching reins again

Travis King  February 10, 2016 3:24 PM

AFL 2016 Media - Hawthorn Team Photo Day

Alastair Clarkson will hand over the coaching job to his assistants during the NAB Challenge

It gives Clarko a chance to sit back and take a look at the team and individual performances

BRENDON Bolton will have to wait until the regular season to pit wits against his former Hawthorn mentor Alastair Clarkson, with the Hawks set to hand the reins to assistant Adem Yze for the NAB Challenge opener with Carlton next Thursday. 

Keeping with tradition from recent seasons, Clarkson will step aside to allow three of his assistants to take charge during the pre-season competition – starting with backline coach Yze against the Blues in Launceston.

It means rookie Carlton coach Bolton won't go head-to-head with Clarkson until the clubs do battle for four points at the Hawks' Aurora Stadium stronghold in round 19. 

Second-year assistant Yze has never previously taken charge of Hawthorn, however former Carlton coach Brett Ratten, now the Hawks' forwards mentor, will get another opportunity to lead the team in their second pre-season match against Richmond at Beaconsfield on February 27.

Stoppage coach Cameron Bruce will then take the reins for the final warm-up against North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on March 12.

“It’s something we’ve done over the last couple of years, giving our assistant coaches the chance to coach,” Hawks general manager of football operations Chris Fagan said. 

“It gives them the opportunity to see what it feels like to be a senior coach, both in the build-up to a game and on match-day. 

"It gives Clarko a chance to sit back and take a look at the team and individual performances ahead of the home and away season.

"We also see it as a way of keeping the players fresh during pre-season, with a number of different voices taking control."

Meanwhile, the Hawks ramped up their preparations for the Blues clash in a intra-club match on Wednesday.

Lively half-forward James Sicily bagged five goals to keep his name at the forefront as a likely replacement for injured star Jarryd Roughead. 

Ex-Giants utility Jono O'Rourke showed he's ready to push harder for senior selection in his second year at Waverley with a strong showing, while former Demons big man Jack Fitzpatrick was another who built some confidence.

Jack Fitzpatrick (right) and Marc Pittonet dual in the ruck. Picture: Hawthorn FC
"There's some really exciting guys coming through that are going to be pressing for senior spots, guys that haven't been so familiar to the supporters," Cameron Bruce told the club's website.

"Jono O'Rourke performed well, Dan Howe, Jack Fitzpatrick's come into the side and did some good things today. James Sicily kicked a handful of goals.

"So they're guys to maybe consider."

Key defender Kurt Heatherley was another who impressed as he bids to step into retired full-back Brian Lake's shoes and the yet-to-debut New Zealander said he was aiming to grab his chance in the NAB Challenge

"Hopefully, I get an opportunity for that and then hopefully push forward," Heatherley said.

Kurt Heatherley gets a kick away at the Hawks' intra-club game. Picture: Hawthorn FC

"(Today) was our first real hit-out, so it was good to have a blow-out. It was pretty tough towards the end.

"It was good to be out there with Gibbo (Josh Gibson), Stratts (Ben Stratton) and all those kind of guys in the backline.

"I've spent most of my time down there obviously, and it's just great learning from those guys who have won a few premierships and got a bit of experience under their belt."

Draftees Blake Hardwick and Ryan Burton also took part in the practice match ahead of potential NAB Challenge debuts in brown and gold, although Luke Surman was restricted to goal umpiring as he continues to manage a back issue.

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