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Kennett says Hodge Hawks' on-field boss

By Adam Cooper 23/05/2010 07:54:17 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has admitted Luke Hodge is the AFL club's most significant on-field leader despite not holding the post officially after he and Sam Mitchell struck a captaincy agreement.

The subject of who leads Hawthorn has been a talking point the past three seasons given Hodge's obvious on-field presence even though he is the club's vice-captain behind Mitchell.

Hawthorn legend Dermott Brereton added to the intrigue on Saturday when he claimed on radio station SEN that everybody knew "the spiritual captain has always been Luke Hodge".

But Brereton was coy when asked why Hodge had not been appointed skipper, as he could not answer without "contravening something that would see a lawsuit".

Kennett on Sunday said he had no idea what Brereton was referring to, but also admitted Hodge's leadership was noticeable on the ground whereas Mitchell's presence was felt off.

"Sam is a very good captain, he is very articulate, and there is no doubt that Luke is a wonderful footballer," Kennett said.

"Between the two of them, I think everyone would accept the fact that Luke is the general on the field and Sam is the general off the field.

"They have different skills, combined together they've been very, very successful."

Kennett said that in the lead-up to the 2008 season, Hawthorn's players and coaches voted Mitchell and Hodge be appointed co-captains, but that Kennett's board had vetoed the suggestion.

"I said `While I am president of Hawthorn there will not be joint captains', in other words it's always been my view that you can only have one captain of the ship," Kennett told Triple M radio.

"Both Luke and Sam went away and had discussions, I don't know (if) anyone else (was involved) as well as themselves, and came back and made the recommendation that Sam be captain and Luke be vice."

Mitchell captained Hawthorn to their 2008 premiership win in his first season as skipper, while Hodge's presence was also instrumental as he won the Norm Smith Medal as best afield in the win over Geelong in the grand final.

Kennett said the players and coaches had voted in favour of Mitchell captaining before the 2009 and 2010 seasons, but said that did not mean Hodge would never get the chance to lead.

"No one has a job for life, I don't have it, you don't have it fortunately, and nor do captains and vice-captains," he said.

"I suspect before the next season starts they'll go through the process again and ultimately the players, the coaches will put a recommendation to the board."

Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said that the club was fortunate to have Mitchell and Hodge, and both were outstanding leaders.

"We all know that Luke could quite easily be captain and the way that he marshals the troops on ground we're really glad that we've got him," Clarkson said.

But he did not back Kennett's view that Hodge was the main man on the field and Mitchell off.

"I think Mitch does his fair share on the field too and I think Hodgey's work off the field with our troops has been outstanding as well," Clarkson said.

"We're just really pleased that we've got them at our footy club."

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