Former Kaniva resident Alastair Clarkson to fight auto-immune condition

BATTLING ON: Hawthorn coach and former Kaniva resident Alistair Clarkson. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

BATTLING ON: Hawthorn coach and former Kaniva resident Alistair Clarkson. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

FORMER Kaniva resident and Hawthorn football coach Alastair Clarkson will leave nothing to chance in his recovery from a serious auto-immune condition.

That is the opinion of Clarkson’s former junior coach Mal Coutts.

Clarkson was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition which affects the nerves surrounding the spinal cord, on Tuesday.

Hawthorn has given no timetable for Clarkson’s return, but there is speculation he could miss the rest of the year.

Coutts, who is from Kaniva and coaches Horsham District Football Netball League side Pimpinio, said Clarkson would make every effort to get himself back in the coaches box by the end of the year.

“He’s probably one of the most determined people I’ve coached or known,” he said.

“He will take everything on board that they tell him.

“He won’t leave any stone unturned and he thinks outside the square, so I wouldn’t put it past him to be back this year.”

Coutts said Clarkson was incredibly focused even from his junior days, recounting a story of seeing him walking across town to the pool on a 40-degree summer day, bouncing a football the entire way.

He said Clarkson would not return until he felt ready.

“He would not come back to coaching unless he felt he could be a benefit to the team,” Coutts said.

In an open letter, Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold said the club’s first concern was Clarkson’s health. 

“We are very fortunate that Clarko’s condition has been detected early, and he has responded well to initial treatment,” he said.

Hawthorn assistant Brendon Bolton will step in as head coach in Clarkson’s absence.

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