HAWTHORN will fill one of the holes in Alastair Clarkson's coaching staff with highly respected Richmond assistant Craig McRae.

McRae is still part of the Tigers' push for a third premiership in four years, having stepped up from VFL coach to oversee the club's forward line this season.

However, AFL.com.au understands the 47-year-old, who played in Brisbane's 2001-03 flag three-peat, will cross to the Hawks for the start of pre-season once his Richmond contract expires.

The news follows fellow Tigers assistant Justin Leppitsch's decision to step away from football at season's end.

Departing Richmond assistant Justin Leppitsch during a training session at Punt Road in June. Picture: Getty Images

Clarkson and Richmond coach Damien Hardwick previously worked together at Hawthorn and are close friends.

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McRae coached the Tigers' VFL side to the 2019 premiership and was rewarded with the AFL Coaches' Association Assistant Coach of the Year, as well as being crowned VFL Coach of the Year.

He worked at Richmond for three years from 2007 as a player development coach, spent a season at the Lions as a development coach, then served as Collingwood's head of development for five years.

To the leave the club seeing so many young players develop into AFL premiership players makes me very proud

- Craig McRae

McRae, known as 'Fly', returned to the Tigers for the 2016 season and has been there ever since.

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His experiences also include working as a part-time kicking and catching coach for NRL powerhouse Melbourne Storm, where he is also held in high regard. 

"I am extremely grateful for my five years at Richmond, and in that time being part of changing the culture at VFL and AFL level," McRae said in a statement.  

"To the leave the club seeing so many young players develop into AFL premiership players makes me very proud.


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"Winning the VFL premiership last year as coach will be something I will cherish for the rest of my life, and want to thank all the staff and players for their years of hard work."

Former Hawks assistant coaches Scott Burns and Adem Yze have accepted new roles with Adelaide and Melbourne, respectively.

Max Bailey, Damian Carroll, Torin Baker, Marco Bello and dual All-Australian Brett Deledio also departed Hawthorn as part of the AFL's soft cap squeeze.

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Meantime, Fremantle is pursuing Collingwood assistant Matthew Boyd to fill a key coaching role next season.

It is understood the Dockers have offered the Pies' backline coach a multi-year deal to move west under senior coach Justin Longmuir.

Boyd worked with Longmuir at Collingwood as a development coach in 2018-2019 before taking the reins of the defence when Longmuir moved to Fremantle ahead of this season. 

The Dockers have flagged an interest in Pies assistant Matthew Boyd. Picture: AFL Photos

The Dockers have several positions to fill after parting ways with backline coach Michael Prior and stoppage coach Anthony Rock in August with five matches remaining. 

Boyd also shares a link with the club's chief executive Simon Garlick, the pair playing as teammates at the Western Bulldogs from 2003-2004. 

In other coaching news, it's believed Dean Solomon won't pursue a senior assistant position in the short term – despite clubs showing interest – and will instead focus on his new gym business.

Solomon was surprisingly part of the Gold Coast coaching cull in September.