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Coach's health the key concern: Hawks

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Hawthorn Football Club has rallied behind its ailing coach Alastair Clarkson after he was diagnosed with a serious medical condition.

Clarkson was admitted to hospital Monday night and diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), which is an inflammation of the nerves from the spinal cord.

“The condition has been detected early, Alastair is stable and at this stage specialists are confident of a full recovery,” the club said yesterday.

Chief Executive Stuart Fox told AFL 360 last night the club will not take any risks with Clarkson’s health.

“We’re fortunate that Alastair’s condition has been detected early, and we’re confident he is in the best possible hands under the care of very experienced specialists.

“Our primary concern is for Alastair’s health and a timeline for his return to coaching is not a consideration at this stage.

“The club will provide support for Alastair and his family for as long as it takes him to recover.”

Assistant Coach Brendon Bolton will coach Hawthorn in Clarkson’s absence.

Fox said that Bolton is the logical interim coach, decided unanimously by the Hawthorn Board, CEO Stuart Fox, GM – football operations Chris Fagan, senior coach Alastair Clarkson and captain Luke Hodge.

“Having worked together for six years, Alastair and Brendon share very similar coaching, teaching and management philosophies,” he said.

“The club has complete confidence that Brendon can step in temporarily for Alastair for as long as may be required.

“With the support of the other assistant coaches, development coaches, leadership group and players, we are confident Brendon’s transition as temporary senior coach will be seamless.”

GUILLAIN-BARRE SYNDROME (GBS). WHAT IS IT?

* A disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

* Symptoms include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs.

* In severe cases, a person can be paralysed, making the condition life threatening.

* GBS can affect anybody and both sexes are equally prone to the disorder.

* GBS is very rare, afflicting only one or two people in every 100,000.

* No-one knows why the non-contagious condition strikes some people and not others.

* GBS is named after the French physicians Georges Guillain and Jean Alexandre Barre, who described it in 1916.

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website

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