Ratten ditches planting trees for third stint as coach

·2-min read
Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS

Brett Ratten took to planting Japanese maple trees after his shock sacking from St Kilda but the experienced coach now feels ready to step back into the AFL hot seat.

The former champion Carlton midfielder will coach a third AFL club, leading North Melbourne after Alastair Clarkson took a leave of absence due to the ongoing toll of the Hawthorn racism saga.

The 51-year-old could take his pick of available assistant jobs after leaving St Kilda, but elected to team up with Clarkson after the pair previously worked together during the Hawks' golden era.

Ratten joined the Kangaroos on a part-time basis to work with their young midfield group.

But after Clarkson's shock decision to step away from Arden St, Ratten will be in charge of North for the foreseeable future.

Ratten did not want to directly address his dramatic exit from the Saints last October, brutally axed less than 100 days after signing a new two-year contract, saying "it's been and gone".

But he did admit to needing some time off from the game he loves.

Accepting a three-day-a-week role under Clarkson, who he worked with during Hawthorn's 2013-15 premiership three-peat, suited him.

"Having gone through what I've gone through, I just needed a bit of breathing space to sit there away from the day-to-day of AFL footy, just to do something a little bit different," Ratten said on Friday.

"I put 3000 Japanese maples in a mate's farm, and I've got on order another 3000 but I might struggle to get them in, I reckon with this new role.

"It's my 18th year of coaching ... I was happy to be a part of it.

"What's happened now, Al is not well, his wellbeing is at the forefront of everybody and I'm just the person that's standing here at the moment. He'll be back and taking over the reins."

When quizzed if he would consider becoming a full-time head coach again, adding to his time at Carlton from 2007 to 2012 and St Kilda between 2019 and 2022, Ratten said "never say never".

"It's probably 100-1, 1000-1, maybe a million-to-one. I'm not even thinking about that," he replied.