Alastair Clarkson returns to Kangaroos as North Melbourne get their man

Four-time AFL premiership coach Alastair Clarkson has chosen North Melbourne as the club he will lead in 2023. After weeks of negotiating with the former Hawthorn coach, North had to contend with an audacious late bid from Essendon, but Clarkson has turned down the late Bombers interest and will instead return to the club where he started his playing career back in 1987.

North president Sonja Hood said she was delighted to announce Clarkson’s appointment on a five-season deal. The 54-year-old will start with North on 1 November, taking over from interim coach Leigh Adams.

“This is a real watershed moment for our club and I am writing to share it with members first – we’ll talk to media later today, but for now this is a moment for all of us,” Hood said in a statement. “I can’t speak highly enough of the professionalism of Alastair and his manager James Henderson over this past four weeks.

“We’ve had a crash course in getting to know each other and Alastair’s passion to drive our club back to where we belong is incredibly infectious. Today is a good day. Alastair’s coming home – to our home.”

Clarkson will be North’s fourth full-time coach in five years after David Noble was sacked in July following less than two seasons in charge.

Clarkson coached Hawthorn for 17 seasons, leading the Hawks to premierships in 2008 and the 2013-15 three-peat. He departed Hawthorn at the end of 2021, a year before his contract was due to expire, following a messy coaching succession plan to former Hawks champion Sam Mitchell.

Clarkson met with North and GWS, before this week telling the Giants he wanted to remain in Melbourne instead of relocating to Sydney. The Kangaroos had been exclusively dealing with Clarkson since Noble’s exit six weeks ago and were in the box-seat.

Essendon attempted to lure Clarkson this week as board turmoil at the club resulted in David Barham replacing Paul Brasher as president.

It is a massive boost for the Kangaroos, who have endured a difficult period on and off the field and will pick up their second-straight wooden spoon if they don’t defeat Gold Coast on Saturday.

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