by Rebecca Williams, Herald Sun
HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson says Carlton's treatment of James Sicily last week should be a "line in the sand" for the AFL's policing of antagonistic play.
Sicily was targeted by Jed Lamb in the Hawks' loss to Carlton, with the Blues player successfully getting under the skin of the young Hawk, who gave away seven free kicks.
While Clarkson acknowledged it was a tactic every club, including Hawthorn, had employed at some stage, the premiership coach said Lamb's treatment crossed the line and it should be a turning point for the way similar situations are policed in the future.
"I think it was a great learning game for everyone involved, including the AFL and the way that they manage those type of things off the ball, attention to players," Clarkson said.
"It's something I'm sure the AFL were concerned about, it's happening more and more in the game and last week Carlton got away with it. Good luck to them and all credit to them, but I'm not sure that's going to be the way that it will be from now on forward.
"It's not an unusual tactic - every club has used it from time to time, it's just how untoward it is. You go and watch junior footy the next day, like I did, and you see it occurring in junior football and it's not a great look for the game.
"I think there is a line in the sand to be drawn on it and that probably crossed it a little bit last week. But having said that, we can't be too critical because we have been involved in that sort of stuff ourselves, every club does it at some point in time to try and influence or negate or curb the influence of a player from the opposition. Carlton did it particularly well last week."
Clarkson said Sicily would learn from the game, but conceded he was a player who played "on the edge" and the Hawks had to educate him on how he managed that in the future.
"For the greater part of the game, strangely enough, he was pretty restrained given the attention he was given. On two occasions, he infringed and he got penalised for it and it cost us a couple of goals," Clarkson said.
"But that's where the learning comes in. He will get better, he's a young player, he plays on the edge. The guy who is retiring tomorrow night (Luke Hodge) has also played on the edge for over 300 games and he's acknowledged as one of the greatest players that has ever played.
"Those guys that do play close to the edge are usually the ones that demonstrate the most passion and get the most out of their ability and we love that about James Sicily, but just like Hodgey, sometimes he will play close to the edge and go over it.
"We've just got to be mindful of that and educate him how he manages that in the games ahead."