It's a nice gesture when you offer your place to your brother for his 21st birthday party. Champion Hawthorn player Luke Hodge did just that, but after failing to attend a training session, which was held the day after his brother's party, Hodge was given the rough news that he'll have to sit out his club's round one clash with Essendon.
After recently handing over the captaincy to Jarryd Roughead, 286-gamer Hodge received little remorse by the new skipper and his leadership group, despite Hodge's seniority at the club.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson was quick to dismiss any suggestions of double standards over Hodge's club-imposed suspension, describing why Hodge has been banned over missing training versus a drink-driving incident that happened in 2015 in which he wasn't suspended.
On that occasion, Hodge was pulled over by police and recorded a blood-alcohol reading of 0.068 just prior to the 2015 AFL finals series. He was fined $450 and docked 10 demerit points, and was also fined $5000 by the Hawks' leadership group. However, he didn't miss any games after the drink-driving charge, and skippered the Hawks to their third premiership on the trot against West Coast Eagles a few weeks later.
"In terms of compliance of what we have established at our footy club, he didn't step outside that (in 2015)," Clarkson told SEN radio on Tuesday. "With this one, he did. According to what we guide our players on in terms of their trademark and what they are expected to do, then that one was outside of their boundaries."
New skipper Roughead and his leadership made the call to suspend Hodge for his training no-show, as Clarkson was overseas at the time on a study camp. According to Clarkson, these decisions have been made by the leadership group for the last decade.
"We've got some protocols – it's a little bit different from the old school when the coach has a heavy hand in everything," Clarkson said. "We got expectations of our players that they will inform us if they can't be at training and Hodgey inadvertently didn't."
Hodge said he supported the decision by the leadership group and new captain Roughead. "I have prided myself on holding the playing group to very high standards and I am disappointed that I let them slip on this occasion," he said. "Our club has established incredibly strong values and I fully support Rough and the leadership group in their decision and ensuring these values are upheld."
Hodge played for VFL team Box Hill last Friday as part of his suspension, but he'll have to wait a little longer for some top-drawer footy after the Hawks run out against Essendon in a fortnight's time. Let's just hope that someone else chooses to host Hawthorn's Christmas party at the end of the year.