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Fiery Hawk 'a very special player': Clarkson

The young Hawks ready to take flight Alastair Clarkson tackles the fans' questions in Ask The Coach

HAWTHORN has been criticised in some quarters for an apparent lack of emerging A-grade players, but don't tell that to coach Alastair Clarkson.

While his own coaching career with the club after 2019 remains unclear, Clarkson believes James Sicily and Jarman Impey are emerging Hawks with the potential to become elite AFL players for a considerable period after that.

"Sicily is a very special player," Clarkson told "His ability to read the ball off the boot in play either as a forward or back is as good as some of the best players I have seen in terms of aerial ability in the last 10 to 15 years."

"That's a big statement and one that will carry some pressure with it. But we have some high hopes about what he can become as a player. He was a third-round pick who can become an A-grader."

The 23-year-old moved to the backline last year, almost as a move of desperation by Clarkson as the injuries to Hawthorn's first-choice defenders mounted. Over the final 10 weeks of the season, he averaged 24.1 possessions, 9.1 marks and 2.2 contested marks a game and earned rave reviews for his ability to read the play and his intercept marking.

But Clarkson did acknowledge that his temperament remains the one major flaw in his game. Carlton got under his skin in the penultimate game of last season and Sicily had to be taken from the ground at one stage to cool off. 

"With Sicily, there is no point trying to sweep things under the carpet," Clarkson continued. "He has some things in his temperament and with being able to push aside the emotions of the game and we still see evidence in stages of games when he just loses it. 

"But if he can manage that temperament and that's our biggest challenge as coaches, if we can steer him through that, he’s got leadership written all over him and he has star quality written all over him, but he is impulsive and he has a temper, as does his coach, so I have empathy with him.

"If we can channel that in the right direction and put a harness on him when he strays, he can be a very important player for us as we climb back up the ladder."


Impey joined the Hawks last October after 75 games and 34 goals with Port Adelaide. The Hawks coveted him as a youngster and like Jack Gunston, Jaeger O’Meara and Tom Mitchell before him, bided their time until they could obtain him through the trade period. 

"We’re pretty excited that even though we missed out on these players as 18-year-olds from a drafting sense, we still feel like bringing them in at 22-23 years of age they can have eight-to-10 year careers at our club."

Clarkson nominated young defender Harry Morrison, whose only appearance at AFL level came in the final game of last season, as another potential star Hawk.

"He had a knee reconstruction at TAC Cup level, has played one game of AFL footy and played really, really well. He has the temperament to become a really fine player. Will he get to A-grade status? It is too early to say definitively but there are signs that he could."