Caroline Wilson reports new leaks

Veteran journalist Caroline Wilson has defended her bombshell report that incoming Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell made it clear in a “mediation meeting” last week that he wanted “clean air” in 2022 without Alastair Clarkson by his side.

The Hawks vehemently denied such talk on Wednesday. Asked directly by Gerard Whateley on SEN’s Whateley if he wanted Clarkson gone next season so he could assume coaching duties a year earlier than planned, Mitchell said: “Absolutely not. That has not happened”.

The 2012 Brownlow medallist also said he gets “a bit p****d off” over conjecture he and Clarkson don’t get along.

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Meanwhile, Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett told 7 News Melbourne that suggestions of friction between the two men is “absolutely incorrect,” while refuting that last week’s meeting didn’t go smoothly.

But speaking on Channel 9’s Footy Classified on Wednesday night, Wilson stood by her report, believing that the specifics of what she said have been misconstrued.

“I respectfully disagree with everything Jeff says. You can numb nitpick over ‘mediation’, the fact is leading teams, Ray McLean was there. And I have absolute certainty that everyone left with the impression that Sam Mitchell would rather have clean air next year,” she said.

“It might have been a respectful exchange of ideas. I never use the word blow up, there was no blow up. What has happened today is that a lot of people have come out and accuse me of saying things I didn‘t say.

“Why on earth would I make something up? Why would I put my reputation on the line knowing that people who were at this meeting were going to come out and have their say. Now it is absolutely possible that Sam did not say: ‘I want to coach next year and I want you gone’. I never reported that.”

Wilson also hit out at Mitchell for emphatically declaring he wants to coach alongside Clarkson next year, stating he “should be very careful about what he says about his premiership coach”.

“What I did say was that people left that meeting with the impression that Sam Mitchell would rather be the senior coach next year. And I‘m sorry, but it is not Sam’s 100 per cent desire to coach in tandem with Alastair Clarkson next year,” Wilson said.

“It might be today, after meetings have been held since that meeting, and I might add, some of those meetings have been held without Alastair Clarkson present, which would not normally happen.

“It is just patently not true for Sam to say there are not leaks coming out of Hawthorn. I’ve never seen Hawthorn leak like this.

“Sam should be very careful about what he says about his premiership coach, as I’m hearing back that he’s been saying to people at that football club… he should just be careful. And maybe that stops now but and maybe we’ve nipped it in the bud.”

Former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon described the situation as “unedifying” and expressed sympathy for Clarkson.

He said that the silence from the four-time premiership coach is “deafening”.

“If it was a serious pushback, both Alastair and Sam would have done something together today. There’s only one party in that meeting that has spoken about Caroline isn’t saying the truth. It’s deafening on the other side, the silence.

“I really feel for Alastair. When he signed a four-year deal, there was no mention of a succession plan. It’s been thrust upon him in a short period of time. And the respect to say we had a 20 minute meeting to plan it out says it all about this arrangement.

“I cannot fathom what Alastair’s been put through after four premierships with the Hawthorn Football Club.”

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Author: Shirley