AFL: Former Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge has been suspended for one game for failing to meet club standards.
ALASTAIR Clarkson has revealed Hawthorn could have still fit boom recruits Jaeger O’Meara and Tom Mitchell into its salary cap if Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis remained at the club.
Premiership stars Mitchell and Lewis were traded by the Hawks in moves that shocked the football world last October, with many believing it was to clear cap space to fit in the two high-profile midfielders.
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But Clarkson has revealed the trading of the four-time premiership players were separate to deals to get O’Meara and Mitchell to the Hawks.
“We would have been pretty tight but we would have been able to,” Clarkson told radio on Tuesday morning of accommodating all four players in the salary cap.
“We were hoping that the actual recruiting of Tom and Jaeger was along the lines of learning from (Luke) Hodge, Mitchell and Lewis for 12 months or two years.
“They (the deals) were all independent of one another.
“There’s no point trying to trick anyone that our salary cap would have been really tight had we squeezed them all in but we would have got there.
“We had already gone to several of our players, we would have had to have done some manipulating of contracts, not in an illegal way (but) go to some of the players and say can you not take so much this year and take it later on?
“That process had already begun whether Sam and Jordan were at the club or not.”
Hawthorn players have previously stated they are willing to take pay cuts so the club can recruit high-profile players in a bid to achieve more success.
Former skipper Luke Hodge revealed last August the club’s oldest players had already taken pay cuts to play on in season 2017 while the club was pursuing O’Meara, Mitchell and Richmond’s Tyrone Vickery.
“The oldest five guys have taken a pay cut,” Hodge said last year as the Hawks announced he, Josh Gibson and Shaun Burgoyne has signed on for 2017.
“Any senior player, once they get to this part of their career, they just want to play football.
“So whether you take a pay cut so your club can go and get other blokes in or pay the younger guys coming through, I think it’s a natural thing.
“I think we’ve proven over the last five or six years, if you take less we can bring in someone to help us be successful and we’ve been able to do that.”
The Hawks also brought Vickery to the club via free agency from Richmond and swooped on delisted free agent Ricky Henderson from the Crows.
Originally published as Hawks could have kept Lewis, Mitchell