Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson says Jarryd Roughead is helping the AFL side focus on football instead of the star forward’s cancer diagnosis.
Roughead learned of a recurrence of melanoma on Monday, with Clarkson noting it had been a trying week that had left everyone at the club shocked and “pretty shattered”.
There has been an outpouring of support for Roughead from teammates, rivals, pundits and supporters ahead of the Hawks’ clash with Sydney on Friday night.
Clarkson says the best thing everyone can do for Roughead and wife Sarah is get back to business – a message the no-fuss operator delivered himself to teammates on Tuesday.
“He came in and spoke to our players and he wants everything to return to normal as quickly as possible,” Clarkson said on Thursday.
“He’s more than likely to come to the game tomorrow night, just to indicate that normality that he wants to return to.
“He’s been an important part of the last two or three days in the way that our players have been able to address this issue.
“We’re really fortunate that he’s taken that sort of approach.”
Clarkson added it’s important Roughead and his family are given “time and space now just to deal with this battle”.
“The best way we can do that is for everything to return to normal,” he said.
“We’re all pretty shattered … you half feel guilty that you need to move on with your life.
“Everyone just wants to stop, take a breath and have great empathy for their plight.
“But for both Rough and Sarah and our footy club, we need to forge ahead.”
Roughead won’t play this season but the 29-year-old is keen to perform an off-field role in Hawthorn’s 2016 campaign.
Clarkson suggested it’s too early to say what that might be.
“He’s got surgery … beyond that we’ll just see how he’s feeling and what the program will be in terms of treatment,” he said.
“But we want him here.
“That’s what he wants too and it’s certainly what Sarah wants.
“This is where his extended family is in a sense and where all of his best mates are.”
Counselling has been made available at the AFL club but Clarkson tried to maintain a sense of normality about training on Thursday.
The four-time premiership coach was unsure how shell-shocked players would perform against the Swans at the MCG.
“It’s hard to say … particularly because it’s a close mate of theirs,” Clarkson said.
“He’s not going to be running out with them for the rest of this season, (it) is probably pretty disappointing for them and obviously disappointing for Rough.”