Hawthorn’s assistant coach Brendan Bolton. Photo: Pat ScalaFollow the Age Sport on Twitter
Hawthorn’s Brendon Bolton will meet Carlton for an extensive interview later this week with the Hawks having told their senior assistant that they wanted him to remain at the club through the finals should he win the Blues’ coaching job.
Now a frontrunner to replace Mick Malthouse, Bolton’s football boss Chris Fagan is understood to have told Bolton he would leave the club at the time of his choosing with Hawthorn’s blessing but that the preference would be for him to stay until the Hawks’ 2015 campaign was complete.
Should Bolton, 36, win the job it would be the third year in succession that the reigning premier had lost an assistant coach to a senior role. In 2013 Adam Simpson was appointed by West Coast, with Luke Beveridge – who was headed to St Kilda to take up a senior coaching and development role – taking over at the Western bulldogs late last year.
The success of both those new coaches, along with Bolton’s impressive career history, has seen him become a strong senior contender despite being a relatively unknown assistant until he stepped in for Alastair Clarkson last season when the senior coach was laid up with serious illness. Under Bolton the Hawks won five straight games on their way to the premiership.
He was interviewed by Adelaide and Gold Coast at the end of the season, having declared after the grand final, “I have got some ideas about how I would go about it if that opportunity one day presented”.
Carlton chief executive Steven Trigg said four candidates remained in contention for the job, with in-depth interviews to be carried out from later this week and into next week. John Barker will also be interviewed, with Trigg telling Fairfax Media he was confident the club would reach a decision by the end of this month.
The Blues spoke with senior coaches Clarkson and Ross Lyon before moving into the first stage of their process, having been told by both that they were contracted and would not be leaving their clubs. Hawthorn boss Stuart Fox said on Monday that “it would not be our style to tell a coach they were not welcome” in the event of landing a senior role elsewhere. “That would be very unusual for us,” said Fox, who said his club was philosophical at the prospect of losing talented assistant coaches. Richmond’s Damien Hardwick is another former Clarkson disciple.
Bolton captain-coached North Hobart, and coached Box Hill to successive finals series in 2009 and 2010 before becoming the Hawks midfield coach. He is now in charge of the forwards.
The Carlton coaching panel is chaired by Blues chief Trigg and includes Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou, former skipper Chris Judd along with recruitment specialist David Campbell and former Saints coach and Carlton premiership player Ken Sheldon.
While Trigg said the club had not finalised its football structure for 2016, he said the Blues were also reviewing their recruitment and player development. While the prevailing view is that fitness boss David Buttifant would leave the club, having been secured by the sacked Malthouse, Trigg said the matter had not been discussed and that Buttifant was contracted.
The initial stages of Carlton’s review suggested the club would be looking for a new high-performance boss and potentially a director of coaching in the event of a younger coach being appointed. Neil Craig, a long-time colleague of Trigg’s when he coached Adelaide, has been linked to the role although any director of coaching appointment would have to be approved by the incoming coach. Trigg insisted no names had been put forward but added: “Neil would be a great asset to any club and if we do require a senior person that is one of several names we’d look at. But as it sits we haven’t gone down that path.”
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