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AFL 2022: Alastair Clarkson, Tom Rockliff rumour, Hawthorn coach news

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A former AFL star has gone public with a rumoured bombshell surrounding the future of former coach Alastair Clarkson.

Former Port Adelaide star Tom Rockliff has “dropped a bombshell” in going public with a rumour surrounding former Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson.

Clarkson’s future has been the subject of wild speculation ever since his messy divorce from the Hawks resulted in him leaving the club with 12 months remaining on his contract.

The 53-year-old was offered the chance to coach Carlton on a silver platter, but knocked the club back in the middle of its recruitment debacle which ultimately resulted in Michael Voss being appointed coach and Ross Lyon pulling out of the race at the last second.

Clarkson instead surprised the football world in October by announcing he had signed a six-month contract to advise the Tasmanian state government in its pursuit of pressuring the AFL into awarding the state its own AFL club.

The deal with Tasmania sets Clarkson up well to explore a potential return to coaching in the AFL for the 2023 season.

Now, Rockliff has declared there is “mail” behind the scenes Clarkson has begun reaching out to players to tell them he will be returning to coach a club in 2023.

“There’s a high profile ex-AFL coach who’s recently out of the game, who has been calling a few free agents directly telling them not to re-sign because I will be coaching next year,” Rockliff said on Triple M Adelaide’s Dead Set Legends on Sunday.

“Alastair Clarkson has been making phone calls. That is the mail that I’ve heard.

“I’m not sure which club, I don’t know if he’s said which club he’s going to.”

“He’s just told them to hold off.”

Dead Set Legends co-host Mark Thomas responded to the news by saying: “He’s dropping bombshells again”.

The free-agency list for 2022 is stacked with stars, including Jordan De Goey, Touk Miller, Isaac Heeney and Lance Franklin.

Meanwhile, The Tasmanian state government-backed bid team hopes Clarkson’s four-month study tour of the United States will be able to help the task force when he returns.

Tasmania is putting pressure on the AFL to be awarded its own AFL team, after decades of putting up cash for North Melbourne and Hawthorn to host home games in the state.

The AFL has previously said the league will address Tasmania’s potential inclusion in 2022.

A Tasmanian team could be as many as five or six years away, and that’s only if the AFL Commission decides to include the southern state, which has produced a long line of football superstars.

Clarkson last month said it was a “no-brainer” for the AFL to include a Tasmanian team and even said he would be willing to be the team’s inaugural coach.

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