Hawks stand down Hodge for AFL opener

Hawks stand down Hodge for AFL opener

BY ROGER VAUGHAN

HAWTHORN have dropped an AFL bombshell, suspending former captain Luke Hodge for the round-one clash with arch-rivals Essendon.

In a carefully-worded statement, the Hawks said Hodge had failed to adequately explain why he had missed training.

It is a terrible look for Hodge and Hawthorn, given what has happened at the club through the off-season.

Coach Alastair Clarkson stunned the AFL last October when he traded Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis, who finished first and second in their best-and-fairest voting.

Then Hodge gave up the captaincy and handed it Jarryd Roughead, who is back after recovering from cancer.

Key football department figure Chris Fagan has also left to coach Brisbane.

Now the Hawks are without their main on-field spiritual leader for the start of a season where they suddenly look vulnerable.

While Hodge is one of the AFL’s toughest players and most-respected figures, the Hawks fined him $5000 at the start of the 2015 finals series when he blew .068 in a drink-driving offence.

Hodge then had a quiet game in the qualifying final loss to West Coast but returned to form with a vengeance as he became a four-time premiership player.

On Friday, the Hawks said the leadership group made the call to suspend Hodge from the Essendon game, adding he “failed to adequately inform the club of his absence from training earlier this week.”

Hawthorn’s new football manager Jason Burt added: “unfortunately there was a breakdown of communication on Luke’s behalf that led to a misunderstanding of his training expectations.

“The sanction is reflective of the standards and values of our club of which Luke has played a large role in creating and driving.”

Hodge was quoted in the statement as saying he had let himself and the club down.

“I have prided myself on holding the playing group to very high standards and I am disappointed that I let them slip on this occasion,” he said.

“Our club has established incredibly strong values and I fully support Rough and the leadership group in their decision and ensuring these values are upheld.”

© AAP 2017

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