Shocked Kangaroos determined to do it for Clarkson

·3-min read
Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS

Interim North Melbourne coach Brett Ratten believes the shell-shocked Kangaroos could come out inspired against Sydney, wanting to put a smile on Alastair Clarkson's face.

The four-time premiership coach has stepped away indefinitely just nine games into his stint in charge at Arden St as he continues to deal with the fallout from the ongoing Hawthorn racism saga.

Ratten, Clarkson's former trusted assistant at Hawthorn during the Hawks' golden era last decade, will take on his third head coaching job just seven months after being sacked by St Kilda.

After winning their first two games under Clarkson's tutelage this year, North are on a seven-match losing streak ahead of their clash with the Swans at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.

"We want to make sure that we perform at the level we're after and I think this could be the motivating factor to do it for Al (Clarkson), make sure that we put a smile on his face," Ratten said on Friday.

Ratten praised Clarkson's "brave" decision to take time away from the AFL to deal with his mental health challenges.

Four-time Hawthorn premiership coach Clarkson, his then assistant and now Brisbane Lions head coach Chris Fagan, and ex-Hawk player welfare manager Jason Burt have been named in allegations of racism during their time at the club.

All deny any wrongdoing.

The AFL formed an independent investigation into the claims eight months ago, but is yet to interview Clarkson, Fagan or Burt.

Even outgoing AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has acknowledged the saga needed to be brought to a close for the sake of all parties involved.

Ratten said the club had tried to process the news of Clarkson's indefinite absence as best they could with North football boss Todd Viney providing a session for players to deal with the crisis.

"They're a pretty resilient group," he said.

"Todd spoke to the players and we just opened it up to talk about how they were feeling; we had our psychologists there to make sure that everybody was feeling all right, expressing their views and that's really what it's about. 

"The brutal thing about AFL footy it waits for nobody."

North co-captain Luke McDonald said he was "just shattered" for Clarkson.

"As a playing group and as leaders we just spoke about providing as much support as we can for Clarko and for all the players as well," McDonald said on Friday.

"These sort of times they can really galvanise groups and that's something we're really hoping happens with us.

"In terms of the morale in the group, we're really in good spirits."

North's hierarchy is confident Clarkson will return to coach North and won't be lost to the game, but don't want to speculate about when that may be.

McLachan is hoping mediation can be achieved to expedite the investigation, but Clarkson and Fagan will almost certainly not attend a proposed meeting in Adelaide next Tuesday.

A lawyer for the family at the centre of the saga said they were prepared to launch civil court against Hawthorn after preferring not to be involved in the AFL's prolonged independent investigation.

"Our clients from the very beginning didn't trust the AFL and they realised and thought it would just be a whitewash and it is certainly turning out to be something like that," lawyer Judy Courtin told ABC Radio on Friday.

"We have our own civil courts in which these allegations and concerns and the harm can be heard and can be tested, so it's not just the AFL inquiry.

"If we want something to be truly independent based on civil laws, one does not go to the AFL inquiry, one uses the system that is already in place."