Master coach ready for battle with former apprentice

HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson is getting used to his protégés gunning for him.

Clarkson's Hawks have now lost three of their last four against Richmond during the tenure of his one-time right-hand man Damien Hardwick.

And earlier in the season, another former assistant, Leon Cameron, led his GWS Giants to a shock win over the premiers.

Tonight Clarkson  will confront Adam Simpson for the second time on the battlefield since he left the Hawks' coaching team to take charge at West Coast in 2014.

Though coming off poor results - a draw with Gold Coast and a loss to the Tigers, respectively - it is the match of the round, with the Eagles sitting second and the Hawks third.

"You get enormous satisfaction out of developing people .... players, that's the obvious one, but coaches and administrators as well," Clarkson told reporters yesterday.

"In some cases, particularly the coaches, they need to go elsewhere to become the senior coach unless they tip me out. I don't want to go just yet."

The two teams share an uncanny similarity, possessing a game plan built around maintaining possession, keeping it out of its defence while providing the attack with as many chances to score.

They are No.1 and No.2 for forward-50m entries, and for scoring, with the Hawks having kicked 282 goals and the Eagles 261. They have 10 players - five each - in the top 43 on the list of leading goalkickers by average.

They are also No.2 and No.3 for defence, too, with only ladder-leader Fremantle conceding fewer opposition 50m entries and fewer opposition goals, 165 and 169, respectively.

"They're a pretty formidable outfit and even more so when they're playing at home. There's no significant weakness in their side, so, we need to play our very best footy to get the job done," Clarkson said.

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