HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson has backed star midfielder Chad Wingard's public stance on racism and his related decision to avoid doing most media.
Clarkson is yet to speak to Wingard about his social media announcement on Monday, when he stated he had lost trust in the media and would only conduct interviews he was contractually obliged to.
RESPECT TO CHAD'S MEDIA BAN It's not blacks v whites, says star Saint
The 26-year-old's preference is to build a big enough platform of his own to share his views on racism, and he has been active in that space since his much-discussed tweet.
The timing of Wingard's stance coincides with the ongoing protests in the United States about police brutality towards African-Americans.
Clarkson said Wingard's statement did not surprise him, because he knew how "passionate" he was about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights.
"It wouldn't have surprised me if it was Shaun Burgoyne, or 'Buddy' (Lance Franklin) or Cyril (Rioli) or any one of our guys," Clarkson told reporters on Friday.
"It's a little bit of a surprise for me that this has happened in America, because if you look at the NFL and the NBA, for instance, those two sports, there's probably more Indigenous talent in those sports than what there is otherwise.
I dont trust our media anymore! Until things change i wont be doing any interviews im not contracted to do! Ill be sharing my own thoughts and content!— chad wingard (@chadwingard20) June 1, 2020
"Sport right across the world has really been the pioneer in breaking down some of the barriers that have existed in this space for a long period of time.
"We're going back centuries in terms of this and sport has done a magnificent job, particularly here in Australia."
Clarkson pointed to the significant spike in Indigenous AFL footballers in the past few decades as evidence of how far the game had come.
"I think we've got 70 or 80 Indigenous players across our competition, (whereas) back in the 70s, I can remember Syd Jackson running around for the Carlton Blues – but Syd was almost on his own," the coach said.
"Glenn James was an Aboriginal umpire (at that time) … we've made giant strides in this space but we're still not there yet, as we're seeing in America.
"We're still not there yet to the level we'd like in Australia, and anyone white, black or otherwise who can continue to champion this cause, then it's certainly got our support.
"We want to make sure that certainly AFL football is a place where all race and religion, no matter what, can come here and be comfortable in this environment."
Clarkson intends to speak to Wingard privately in the coming days to discuss the matter.
However, he said this wasn't a new topic for him, with "fantastic role models" such as Chance Bateman, Burgoyne, Franklin, Rioli and Mark Williams playing under him in his time at the Hawks.
Meanwhile, Clarkson was unable to confirm whether or not prominent injured pair Blake Hardwick (chest) or Jaeger O'Meara (facial fracture) would face Geelong next Friday night.
O'Meara could yet wear a guard or padding to protect his fracture but he said no decision would be made on them until at least Wednesday next week.
"(Hardwick)'s still got a couple of boxes to tick," Clarkson said.
"In his normal build-up to play, he would have done his contact work a bit earlier than what he has in this instance, because all players have been disallowed to do it until the last three weeks.
"So, we've needed to fast-track that a little bit … we can't categorically say he's going to be available to play right at this point in time but we expect he will be available."