Taylor switch didn't work: Hawks coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Taylor switch didn't work: Hawks coach

By Adam Cooper 02/03/2010 05:19:17 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has taken the blame for transforming Hawks ruckman Simon Taylor from hard-luck story into one of the most maligned players in the AFL in 2009.

Clarkson said his order to Taylor to play more aggressively was one of a series of tactical decisions that backfired last year, when the Hawks finished ninth and became the first reigning premier to miss the finals the following season in a decade.

Taylor was unlucky not to play in the Hawks' 2008 premiership win, but that sympathy diminished last year when he gave away 46 free kicks for the season - only the Brisbane Lions' Mitch Clark conceded more - and was suspended for putting his knee into the face of Geelong star Joel Selwood in round one.

Clarkson admitted his demand that Taylor play more aggressively in a bid to replace Robert Campbell at stoppages did not work, but that Taylor did not deserve to take all the blame.

"We knew Robbie Campbell was having some trouble with his knee and that he would find it difficult to withstand the rigours of the game, so we tried to turn Simon Taylor into more of an enforcer-type ruckman like Robbie Campbell was," Clarkson told AAP.

"All that led Tayls to do was to give away more free kicks.

"The football world was in uproar at how undisciplined he was and how untidy he was in the way that he contested balls in the ruck.

"But that was a strategy we tried to initiate into him to make him into that enforcer-type ruckman that we thought was best for our side. "That didn't work.

"Unfortunately for Tayls he's been ridiculed right through the football world because of that when it was probably my fault more so than anyone else's, because that's the way we wanted him to play."

Clarkson cited the decisions to put more bulk on the frames of full-forward Lance Franklin and star utility Luke Hodge as other decisions that failed, as both failed to match their outstanding seasons in the premiership year.

Franklin and Hodge are much leaner now, but Clarkson said the Hawks thought last year the pair would have greater impact with more bulk behind them.

"We thought they'd be difficult to contain if they were big and strong, but the greatest illustration, I suppose, was when Hirdy (former Essendon star James Hird) came back one year and he was about 100kg," he said.

"Then he did his navicular (bone, in his foot) and spent the best part of two years out of the game.

"Then he really leaned himself off and got down to 90kg or low 90s and didn't have any more problems for the rest of his career.

"We've seen it over history that carrying too much weight can be a pretty dramatic thing and we learned last year that that was the case."

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