Clarkson meets with AFL boss as campaign continues

Alastair Clarkson's mini-campaign to stop what he believes is illegal defending intensified on Monday morning, when he met with AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan to voice his concerns.

McLachlan has confirmed to The Age that the two met for coffee early on Monday morning in Prahran, a meeting that was requested by Clarkson.

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson.

While McLachlan wouldn't comment on the specifics of the meeting, he said it was completely normal for him to meet with senior figures in the industry, which often includes senior coaches.

Clarkson, the four-time premiership coach at Hawthorn, has been on a mission to stop what he believes is illegal defending in the game.

The Hawks coach has been telling people since early in the year about the new fashion of defending that's creeping into the game, something Clarkson describes as defending the player and not the ball.

Clarkson was privately seething about the way Richmond defended his forwards in the 13-point loss to the Tigers in round three, mainly because he thought Tiger defenders were blocking the run of his forwards with their forearms without actually holding on to them.

It ultimately came to a head after Friday night's close loss to Sydney, when Clarkson claimed that some Swans defenders were getting away with "blue murder".

"I watched a game last week where Dane Rampe's playing on Ben Brown. A guy who's 6'1 or 6'2 playing on a guy who's 6'8 or 6'9. There's only one way that he can actually defend in that manner. He's not actually defending the ball, he's defending the body," Clarkson told 3AW on Saturday.

"It's very sophisticated defence, it's very disciplined, it's very well-coached and it's very well adhered to by the Sydney defenders, but in my view their defenders aren't actually defending the ball. They're defending the body.

"That's why young kids like (Paddy) McCartin and (Josh) Schache and (Tom) Boyd and (Eric) Hipwood, they wonder why they play such great footy at under-18 level and then can't get a kick at senior level. Well, in under-18 level, they don't defend the body, they defend the ball."

Those comments didn't sit well with Sydney counterpart and close friend John Longmire, who hit back strongly on Monday.

"It was a strange comment from Alastair, given the three previous times we played them and lost by a kick nothing was said," Longmire smiled.

"When you look at what Hawthorn players do, they do exactly the same thing.

"It's just a bit unusual that you can comment on other teams and make an assertion on other teams and what they do and think yourself that your team does everything perfectly right."

Longmire and Clarkson, who played at North Melbourne together from 1988-95, have exchanged text messages over the weekend.

"Obviously after the game it can be a bit difficult but then to follow it up on Saturday and then again this morning he caught up with Gill for breakfast to go through some vision, is a bit unusual.

"I'm not sure whether it was under the guise of the charter of the game or what is was, but unusual and unnecessary, I'd suggest."

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