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North Melbourne Kangaroos, Alastair Clarkson, coach, job offer, decision, Essendon Bombers, Ben Rutten, Leigh Adams, Hawthorn Hawks, Sam Mitchell

Alastair Clarkson has spoken out for the first time in the battle between two clubs to land his coaching services as he travels interstate on personal business.

Clarkson flew to Adelaide, where Seven News reported he was visiting a sick friend. The former Hawthorn coach confirmed the visit was for personal reasons related to his son’s school.

“To be honest, what’s happening in my life at the moment is secondary to the tragedy at Caulfield Grammar Society,” Clarkson said.

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“I’m here to see my good friend and get myself back to Melbourne.”

The four-time premiership boss has prioritized the interstate tour over his coaching career.

“It’s secondary to what I deal with with my mates and what the community can handle, so we see everything in perspective,” he said.

Seven reports that Clarkson will make a decision after round 23 with current coaches, Essendon’s Ben Root – who is under contract until the end of 2023 – and North Melbourne’s interim boss Leigh Adams.

Asked if he would be interested in the Port Adelaide job, Clarkson said: “Nah nah, disrespect to Kenny (Hinkley), he’s still 12 months into the job. I texted him tonight to let him know I was coming.”

Clarkson’s manager, James Henderson, told Nine’s Eddie McGuire: “Clarkson is moving very quickly towards a decision now.”

McGuire pointed out that Essendon were “all over the place” and in the next 24 hours “we’ll find out what (president Dave Barham) has to say about Ben Rutton”.

“Still not 100 per cent to coach Ben Root at the weekend,” McGuire said.

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Meanwhile, North Melbourne are now pulling the plug on Clarkson’s “heartbreak” of wanting to coach the club where he started his playing career, leading the head coach to join them instead of Essendon.

The man he replaced at Hawthorn, Sam Mitchell, said he wanted “stability” for Clarkson, who is missing from the Bombers this week.

The four-time AFL premiership winner has been offered a five-year deal by the Kangaroos and looks certain to head to Arden St before putting the Bombers on the radar at Essendon.

Kangaroos premiership winner Wayne Carey hopes Clarkson will pick Rows and says he would be “surprised” if he backs down at this stage.

“In my time, in my time, I don’t think I’ll ever remember a coach who was given more time to choose what he wanted and have so many clubs looking for his services,” Carey told Triple M.

“These are very unrealistic situations for me.

“I’d be very surprised if Alastair Clarkson went down the track fairly well against North Melbourne, knowing Clarke and how he handles himself … I’d be surprised if he did a back flip.

“I know a lot of people think he does, but I wonder if he’s going to back down, knowing what kind of character he is.”

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There have been mixed reports on the timeline for the job decision, with some suggesting that North Clarkson has a deadline, while others say that is not the case.

But coach Leigh Adams, who replaces David Noble in mid-summer for a sixth and final stint coaching the Kangaroos, hopes Clarkson can reflect on his playing days and take that into account when making his decision.

Clarkson began his football career at North Melbourne in 1987 and played 93 of his 134 AFL games there before finishing in Melbourne.

“I think it would be great if he comes to our footy club but if he doesn’t we’ll get the next best guy in,” Adams said on Wednesday.

“Whoever finishes his coaching career will find a special team that we feel has some good talent and can climb the ladder.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure what[Clarksons]is worth, but I know there are good people at this football club, not just the players but our staff here are fantastic.

“Hopefully, he’s a former player here and he understands the culture and the people in this place and it pulls at the heartstrings a little bit.

The Kangaroos have put all their eggs in Clarkson’s basket to be their next coach, but Essendon have made a late and strong push.

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But in the year Mitchell, who was premiership captain under Clarkson in 2008 and was assistant coach at the Hawks before taking the top job this year, said the rules at Essendon board level this week could be red when president Paul Brasher steps down. Flag

“I know it’s going to be big for stability. He wants to make sure everybody wants the same thing, whether it’s the board or the administration or the football department,” Mitchell said.

He was always a calm big man. What Clark is thinking is more than a $1mn question. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

Mitchell Clarkson said 2022 would be no problem for North’s long-term project to finish at the bottom of the table.

“I don’t think desire is even Clark’s problem,” he said.

Because of that desire to drive something from start to finish, he doesn’t have much risk.

Fox Footy’s Leigh Montagna says he still expects Clarkson to stick with North Melbourne, and bids his time considering the offer.

“I just wonder how much he invested in the Kangaroos to get through their list. Maybe his heart is already with the kangaroos,” Montagna said on Triple M.

If[Clarkson]picks the Kangaroos over Essendon, that could hurt the Bombers badly.

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