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Hawks' biomechanics guru set to join AFL

David Rath keeps a close eye on Hawks skipper Jarryd Roughead - AFL,Hawthorn Hawks
David Rath keeps a close eye on Hawks skipper Jarryd Roughead

HAWTHORN'S biomechanics genius David Rath is the latest Hawk to fly the coop, winning the race to be the AFL's newly created head of coaching. understands Rath has informed club officials, family and friends that he is leaving to take up the job at League headquarters.

He made it to the final two candidates pre-Christmas – the other is believed to have been one of the game's trailblazing female coaches – and an announcement is imminent.

Rath will effectively replace Lawrie Woodman, the AFL's former coaching development manager, who finished in December after almost 17 years, as part of new football boss Steve Hocking's restructure.

The wide-ranging job description includes developing coaching strategies for grassroots football up to the elite level.

Rath was four-time Hawthorn premiership coach Alastair Clarkson's first hire after taking over in late 2004, and he helped set the tone for the club's groundbreaking on and off-field tactics.

He has served as a high-performance coach at Waverley Park for most of his 13-year tenure, but the Hawks employed him as head of football strategy and innovation ahead of last season.

Rath, once described as "a mad scientist in running shorts", oversees the analytic and IT staff at Hawthorn and specialises in skill development and game analysis.

The ex-Australian Institute of Sport biomechanist and performance analyst also researches other sports looking for strategies, trends and training and coaching methods that might translate to the AFL.

Rath is credited with transforming the Hawks from the League's worst kicking side into the best during their golden era from 2012 to 2015, when they made every Grand Final and won three of them.

Hawthorn's immense success under Clarkson resulted in rival clubs not only adopting similar tactics, but also poaching staff.

Damien Hardwick, Adam Simpson, Brendon Bolton, Leon Cameron and Luke Beveridge all accepted senior coaching jobs after working for Clarkson, while former football manager Chris Fagan is in charge at the Brisbane Lions.

Cameron Bruce also accepted a job in August with Carlton as a senior assistant coach after five years in Clarkson's team.

Mark Evans, who was once Hawthorn's football operations manager, filled the same role at the AFL and is now Gold Coast's chief executive.

Rath fit Clarkson's preference for his people to have a teaching background, much like Damian Carroll and Jason Burt and past employees Bolton, Fagan, Evans and Rob McCartney.

The AFL is still on the hunt for a new head of umpiring, after Peter Schwab resigned in November with two years to run on his contract.