ALASTAIR Clarkson, over to you.
The first ripple in the coaching universe for 2022 has been felt with Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron's resignation on Thursday. His 193rd and final game as Giants coach will come this weekend against Carlton on Sunday before the reins are handed over to assistant Mark McVeigh in the short term.
But the door is now wide open for Giants boss Dave Matthews and football manager Jason McCartney to make a huge swing for Clarkson, who can listen, watch and wait as clubs come knocking for his services.
The spectre of Clarkson has hung over several clubs in the first two months of this season, with Cameron's declaration after round three that the club and he had decided to put off contract talks until the end of the season the most obvious sign that the pair were headed towards an amicable split in 2022.
The Giants' capacity to chase their next coach can now begin in earnest, without any back-dooring of Cameron, who lifted the club to its 2019 Grand Final and has been a well-liked leader of his players over a nine-year stint.
The move also allows Cameron a moment to refresh before seeing what is available for 2023, having been at the helm of the AFL's youngest club through its growth as he steered a group in a unique position as the Giants were blessed with talent but also had a revolving door of key players leave. The post-season exits of 2020, which included gun forward Jeremy Cameron, were perhaps the beginning of the end for his time at the Giants.
Clarkson has long been linked to Gold Coast but the AFL's other start-up franchise in Sydney is well placed to make a bid for the four-time Hawthorn premiership coach, who has so far used his time out of the game to travel the world, be embedded in US sports and push Tasmania's case for the next AFL licence. Clarkson has displayed a strong loyalty towards his former assistants, of which Cameron is one, having worked as an assistant at the Hawks prior to joining the Giants, but Cameron's smoother exit would ease that concern.
THE CLARKSON ERA 17 years, four premierships, one giant legacy
One coaching decision can often bring more. Clarkson would know this as well as anyone. Last year, when Nathan Buckley departed Collingwood mid-season, it kickstarted a chain of events that saw the Hawks move to ensure they kept Sam Mitchell and fast-tracked their succession plan, making for an early exit for Clarkson.
West Coast has this week publicly backed Adam Simpson to take control of its rebuild into the future while the Suns' situation with out-of-contract coach Stuart Dew will also be a weekly discussion.
The presence of James Hird at GWS has also added intrigue to the coaching situation at the club all year, with the former Essendon coach back in the fold at AFL level and being lauded for his work with the club's leadership group in recent months.
He has been involved with the players and coaching staff, there on game-day and also at training mid-week and will doubtless be thrown into the coaching mix. Don Pyke, Nathan Buckley and Ross Lyon, too, will be among the experienced senior coaches who could be considered.
Or do the Giants look for an untried yet highly rated assistant to take charge? This year's COVID absences of senior coaches has given a platform for stand-ins to take their moment.
Jaymie Graham at Fremantle (and previously West Coast) is strongly regarded, Ash Hansen at the Blues and previously the Bulldogs has built a good resume and Adem Yze (at Melbourne and before that, under Clarkson at the Hawks) has developed his credentials, while Andrew McQualter and Adam Kingsley at Richmond, and Daniel Giansiracusa at Essendon are among the other assistants who have been in the running for senior gigs.