Clarkson embarrassed about coaching speculation as Bombers, Kangaroos wait for his decision

Essendon coach Ben Rutten looks stony-faced as his dejected players stand behind him after a big loss.

Alastair Clarkson says he will make a decision about his AFL coaching future soon, while admitting to being embarrassed about being linked to Essendon while Ben Rutten is still in charge.

Key points:

  • Clarkson has been linked to the Bombers and Kangaroos
  • He says he feels for current Bombers coach Ben Rutten
  • The Kangaroos are hoping to hear from Clarkson by the end of the week

The struggling Bombers have expressed interest in recruiting Clarkson for next season, despite Rutten still having a year left on his contract.

North Melbourne is also in the race for Clarkson’s services, with the Kangaroos expecting a decision from the four-time premiership coach by the “end of the weekend”.

The Kangaroos remain optimistic they will secure the former Hawthorn coach, despite the late interest from Essendon.

There had also been speculation Clarkson could be Leon Cameron’s long-term replacement at GWS.

Clarkson said he had “enormous respect” for Rutten, as well as caretaker coaches Leigh Adams (Kangaroos) and Mark McVeigh (Giants).

“With the situation around ‘Truck’ (Rutten), he’s still got a year of his contract to run and it’s quite embarrassing being the centre of attention in a situation that is just so difficult for both him and his club,” Clarkson told Ten News.

“I’d prefer to be able to get off the back page, and I know full well that this circus will all end once I can make a decision, one way or another.

“The sooner I can do that, the better.”

The Kangaroos have for weeks appeared likely to land Clarkson as their full-time coach replacement for David Noble in what would be a massive boost for the bottom-placed club.

But the Bombers this week launched an audacious bid to nab Clarkson amid board turmoil at the club, as David Barham replaced Paul Brasher as president.

Essendon coach Ben Rutten looks stony-faced as his dejected players stand behind him after a big loss.
Ben Rutten has endured a challenging season with the Bombers.(Getty Images: AFL Photos / Michael Willson)

Rutten, who is contracted for 2023, remains Essendon’s coach but the Bombers have approached Clarkson and are hoping he can help the once-powerful club storm back into premiership relevance.

The Bombers’ last flag came back in 2000 and they have failed to win a final since 2004.

The Kangaroos have exclusively dealt with Clarkson since they parted ways with Noble in July and remain bullish the 54-year-old will return to the club he began his playing career with back in 1987.

“We’re pretty confident we’ll know something by the end of the weekend, and we’re really happy with the way things are going,” Kangaroos president Sonja Hood told the Seven Network.

“We think we’ve presented well to him. He’s presented well to us. We understand where each other’s at and we’ll see how that plays out.”

Former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon, as well as Port Adelaide mentor Ken Hinkley, are believed to be the club’s top choices after Clarkson.

Hinkley has come under fire this year as the Power dropped out of the finals after playing preliminary finals in 2020 and 2021.




Author: Ivan Robinson