HAWTHORN coach Sam Mitchell is hoping to bridge the gap between the Hawks and his former teammate Cyril Rioli, but declined to comment on Jeff Kennett's future as club president.
According to The Age, Rioli, who made a shock exit from footy in 2018, will not return to the club while Kennett remains as president, due to remarks Kennett allegedly made towards Cyril's wife Shannyn at Launceston airport that same year.
“I was saddened to read the article and to hear some of his words and Shannyn’s words, and the fact they feel like that certainly saddens me,” Mitchell said after Hawthorn’s one-point loss to Carlton at the MCG on Sunday.
“I wasn’t aware of some of the stuff in there, no.
“I’ve reached out to him over the last few months and (I’m) trying to get him to reconnect back with the club and show him some of the things we are doing now to try and improve in this area.
“Hopefully we can welcome him back into the fold at some stage, but at the moment you’ve just got to respect his wishes that he’s not willing to do that just yet."
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Mitchell insisted he is committed to making Hawthorn a better and more inclusive club.
“I reached out to him towards the end of last year and the start of this year… we were meant to go to Darwin last year but it didn’t happen due to Covid," he said.
"I knew we were going this year and I hoped that it might be a way, knowing that he lives there, that we’d connect and maybe he could spend some time with us and we could reunite him back with the club.
"A couple of things came out of that discussion with him and he knows that I’m looking to improve the club… and, we’ve got work to do, like everyone does, like the community does… he knows I’m committed to doing that, so hopefully we’ll welcome him back in.”
Mitchell made no comment when asked if Kennett should resign amid the allegations.
Mitchell understandably pointed to the Hawks’ slow start as the catalyst for their first loss of the season.
“Obviously we gave up not a very nice first quarter,” Mitchell said.
The first-year-coach praised his side’s ability to fight its way back into the contest.
Three quick goals at the start of the final quarter saw Hawthorn hit the lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game.
“The boys stuck in and played the right way… I thought our pressure around the ball was really good for the majority of the game,” he explained.
“We got our noses in front for a little while, but we just weren’t able to maintain it towards the end.
“The mentality of our players to continue to play to their strengths, regardless of a couple of situations early in the game that didn’t go our way was the pleasing part to come out of the game.”
Despite almost blowing a 41-point lead, and conceding the Blues did plenty wrong, Carlton coach Michael Voss was taking a positive and optimistic view post-game.
The Blues are unbeaten after three rounds for the first time in 10 years, but after jumping out of the blocks with a dominant seven-goal first quarter, that nearly wasn’t the case, after Carlton could only manage a further four goals for the match.
Voss, who is the only new coach in 2022 yet to suffer defeat, insists his side will learn plenty from having plenty of questions asked of them by the plucky Hawks.
When asked if his take was glass half-empty or half-full in his post-game press conference, Voss was matter of fact.
“No, I’m half full, no question… because one of the really important things we’ve really spoken about a lot over pre-season has been around resilience,” he said.
“It’s about adaptation and getting the job done when things are not working for you as you would like.
"That question’s been well and truly asked a number of times throughout pre-season, in our training that we’ve tried to provide to the players, but it’s also been present within our games that we’ve played.
“We understand that we are not the finished product. We’ve got things to work on, but through that while we’re working it, if we can bank the four points and sort of learn a bit of resilience along the way, then it’s only going to hold us in really good stead moving forward.
“I’d much rather be learning with four points in the pocket than learning the other way right now.”
The Blues will be sweating on the fitness of ruckman Marc Pittonet (back), who was subbed out of the game in the closing stages, ahead of their trip to Metricon Stadium to take on the Suns on Sunday.
“He got through most of the game, so you’d think it’d be okay, but we’ll wait until we get the assessment and then make a call from there,” Voss said.
Star forward Charlie Curnow, who followed up five goals last week with three today, also came off just moments before the final siren.
“I just had a quick roll of the ankle and was a bit slow to get up,” Curnow told Fox Footy post-game.