Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell has said he’s “torn in a thousand directions” amid disturbing allegations regarding the club’s treatment of First Nations players when Alastair Clarkson was at the helm.
ABC Sport on Wednesday morning published confronting contents of an external review that’d been commissioned by Hawthorn, as well as first-hand accounts from three First Nations players spoken to by ABC journalist Russell Jackson.
Speaking at the Rule Prostate Cancer function on Wednesday, Mitchell said he and fellow panellist Shaun Burgoyne were left shocked by the allegations.
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“I’m torn in a thousand different directions to be honest,” Mitchell said.
“I’m very much like everyone else. I got a heads up yesterday that something was coming out, but when I woke up and read it this morning I was upset.
“I think you can use the word ‘disturbed’ and it’s probably accurate.
“We (Mitchell and Burgoyne) had a good chat behind the stage before that we didn’t know anything like that was happening. The fact we were part of the organisation at the time, it’s enormously troubling.”
Burgoyne retired at the end of last season after 433 AFL games, 250 of which were with Hawthorn under Clarkson.
Mitchell said he would focus on trying to unite the club, but added it was difficult to do so given many are now on leave.
“Right now as the coach of the club how to lead our people forward when they’re not all together is really difficult,” he said.
“We don’t have players and staff and coaches together to be able to speak with. My focus has to be very much to let the AFL handle it with what they’re doing and I’m glad that’s happening, but very much make sure that we are doing everything we can so that the future is much brighter than the past.”
Burgoyne added he had “no knowledge of those things happening” at the club during his time there and would’ve stepped in had he been aware.