Tarryn Thomas and Alastair Clarkson during the R22 match between North Melbourne and Essendon at Marvel Stadium on August 12, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

NORTH Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson isn't surprised Tarryn Thomas is attracting attention from rival clubs weeks after the Kangaroos sacked their troubled former player.

Thomas has been out of the AFL system since the Kangaroos sacked him in February after the League suspended him for 18 games for threatening a woman and other misconduct.

But Geelong coach Chris Scott said on Thursday the Cats would be "open-minded" on the possibility of recruiting the former Kangaroo, who won't be able to join another club until at least the end of the season.


Asked if he was surprised about how much interest Thomas was getting, just seven weeks after his suspension, Clarkson said: "Nah, not at all.

"Tarryn and the AFL and his management need to work through whatever protocols he needs to go through to tick all the boxes for him to become available to play AFL footy. 

"But it was never in any doubt for me that that was going to be something he'd be able to achieve. And we're excited if he gets that opportunity, whether it's Geelong or any other club. 

"... If he can do the things necessary to get himself right to put himself in that space again, then we're delighted he's going to get the chance."

Asked if it was premature for clubs to be getting in Thomas' ear, Clarkson said: "It's a question for the AFL, rather than us."

The Kangaroos put a lot of work into Thomas through multiple off-field issues, but Clarkson dead-batted a question regarding advice for other clubs targeting the 24-year-old.

"We tried our best to make it work here. It didn't work for a whole heap of reasons," he said.

"And then whatever happens from here, it's up to Tarryn and whatever footy club wants to take him on board and give him an opportunity."

Tarryn Thomas in action during North Melbourne's clash against Melbourne in round 21, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Clarkson has urged North Melbourne fans to take out their frustrations on him, not Sonja Hood, after online abuse was directed at the Kangaroos president.

Dr Hood had been a prolific user of X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, for communicating with Kangaroos fans but recently deactivated her account because of vitriol she was receiving.

"It's difficult because ... it's a really, really effective communication tool for many, many people when it's used in the right way," Clarkson said.

"Sonja has been able to communicate with so many people using that forum and platform, but unfortunately it's got some risk attached to it and you do open yourself up to some vitriol from time to time.

"I think Sonja's just said, 'This is just a little bit over the top at the minute, I’m just going to pull myself away from it for a while just until the balance comes good again'."

CEO Jen Watt and president Sonja Hood at a North Melbourne press conference on May 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Clarkson defended Hood amid North's difficult 0-4 start to the AFL season and said any heat should be on him.

"She's been terrific for our footy club – her and (CEO) Jen Watt govern and administer the club superbly," he said.

“Probably if there’s any criticism of our footy club, it’s that we’re not going too well on the footy field.

"If you want to direct the blame or the attention to anyone, direct it right here, don't worry about our administration or our chairperson, I'm in charge of our footy program.

"Todd Viney gives me a fair chop-out. So together, if you want to point the finger, point it at us.

"But we'll get there. We know where we're at. We've really strong alignment with our board and our players and hopefully our supporters can see enough of where we're going, but it's just gonna take a little bit of time."