Hawthorn Coach Alastair Clarkson Out For Months Due To Rare Illness

Hawthorn‘s premiership defence has been thrown into complete turmoil, with senior coach Alastair Clarkson now unable to work for what could potentially be the rest of the season after being hospitalised with an extremely rare and very serious auto-immune condition known as Guillain-Barré syndrome.

The two-time premiership winning coach had been experiencing back pain for some time, but was admitted to hospital on Monday night with acute pain, which was followed by the diagnosis.
Guillain-Barré is a syndrome where the body’s nerves are attacked by its own immune system, resulting in a spreading paralysis. The vast majority of sufferers recover from the disease, which is usually triggered by an acute viral or bacterial infection, but it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to fully recover, and even then some people feel long lasting effects.
Former St Kilda legend and triple-Brownlow medalist Ian Stewart suffered a bout of Guillain-Barré that took 23 months to recover from, which included 5 months of hospitalisation, 3 of which spent effectively paralysed.
Hawthorn officials are hopeful of a swift recovery, but the evidence suggests that won’t be likely, even with an early diagnosis such as this one. Clarkson’s recovery will necessitate a largely stress-free, relaxed environment, effectively preventing him from undertaking his regular duties as the Hawks senior coach.
Current Hawks midfield coach Brendan Bolton will be taking over as Hawthorn’s interim senior coach while Clarkson recovers.
With a team already ravaged by injuries to key players such as Sam Mitchell, Cyril Rioli and Josh Gibson, this is yet another significant blow to an already difficult premiership defence.
Photo: Morne de Klerk via Getty Images.