Hawthorn coach backs Jeff Kennett - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawthorn coach backs Jeff Kennett

By Robert Grant 24/05/2008 11:46:54 AM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has launched an impassioned defence of club president Jeff Kennett's blunt views on Melbourne ahead of the two clubs' clash Sunday.

Clarkson said Kennett, who suggested down-at-the-heel Melbourne move to the Gold Coast for survival, was entitled to "rattle the cage."

Kennett's suggestions were quickly dismissed by Melbourne president Paul Gardner and AFL boss Andrew Demetriou but Clarkson said Kennett was obligated to voice his opinions.

"People who are given the responsibility of governance in all levels of industry at different stages have got a responsibility to rattle the cage," Clarkson said.

"We've got a president who in his political life and now his role as president of our club, that has been as good as anyone in that regard for a long, long period of time.

"We're absolutely delighted that he rattles the cages at our football club because it's made us a much, much better footy club.

"Sometimes those comments are provocative, sometimes they're challenging - they're always very, very well informed.

"He's got a fantastic intellect, he's got great humour and we're pretty happy that he's president of our footy club because he really challenges us to strive to get to another level," Clarkson said.

In the wake of former Victorian Premier Kennett's comments, Gardner has urged Melbourne supporters to do something they are always criticised for not doing - turn up to back the team against the Hawks at the MCG Sunday.

The last time the two sides met, in round one, Hawthorn inflicted a devastating 104-point loss on the Demons.

But Clarkson said his side needed to remain wary, especially after Friday night's unexpected whipping of previously unbeaten Geelong by Collingwood.

"I think the greatest lesson out of last night's game is something that hasn't changed in footy for 100 years and that is if you tackle and put pressure on the opposition really, really well, it helps you win games of footy," Clarkson said.

"Collingwood were just absolutely fantastic last night and I think we can all maybe ridicule Geelong a little bit for the way they didn't withstand that pressure that well, but I don't think there'd be 14 other clubs that could have withstood that.

"I don't think there would be a coach in the competition that wouldn't make some sort of reference to the way Collingwood went about it last night, they were outstanding," he said.

Clarkson said he would not be taking Sunday's match lightly despite Melbourne's 1-7 record and Hawthorn's unbeaten run.

"Every game that you play we prepare for an enormous challenge.

"Melbourne have got some very, very good players, the bulk of their side have played a lot of finals footy and we know that if they get going on any given day they can be very challenging.

"It was only 18 months ago that they beat us by a significant margin at the MCG," he said.

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