Clarkson defends Hawks' boxing session

Mitch Lewis's concussion sustained while boxing training has the AFL asking questions of the Hawks.
Mitch Lewis's concussion sustained while boxing training has the AFL asking questions of the Hawks.

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson says any moves to ban boxing sessions within AFL clubs would be a "severe reaction" to Mitch Lewis' accidental concussion.

The Hawks are under AFL investigation after Lewis was concussed when hit in the head by teammate Jacob Koschitzke earlier this month.

The 22-year-old forward will miss a second straight match this weekend under concussion protocols that were introduced this season.

Clarkson said his players' welfare and protection of their heads is "paramount" as he defended the Hawks' boxing session.

"These types of things happen, not on a frequent basis, but they do happen," Clarkson said.

"Part of the things we do, whether it's on-field or off-field, is, in actual fact, to prepare our players to protect themselves in a way that allows them to play a collision sport and do it as safely as they possibly can.

"To prepare them to do that, sometimes you have to put a little bit of risk into your training, whether that's on-field or off-field.

"Now, we want to mitigate that risk as much as we possibly can and, in this instance, it was just a genuine accident."

The AFL investigation will centre around Hawthorn's recorded vision of the Lewis-Koschitzke incident and interviews with players.

The Hawks have come under heavy criticism over the boxing session, which Clarkson claimed has been taken out of context in media reports.

"We've used the words tag and touch to the head," the four-time premiership coach said.

"Even in the description last week of the preparation for the drill, there were certainly no haymakers or anything being thrown.

"We wanted our players to protect (themselves) but ... tagging the head and tagging the body were the directions they were given.

"This was a low punch, which was a body punch and it, unfortunately, resulted in Mitch being concussed.

"He wasn't knocked out, he was just concussed and rattled a little bit."

The AFL is likely to reveal its findings from the investigation in the coming days.

Australian Associated Press