THE possibility of seeing Luke Hodge in a Brisbane guernsey is proving tough to swallow for Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson.
Hodge, who played his 300th game for the Hawks this season, recently notified the club of his intention to backflip on retirement plans and continue his career with the Lions.
The four-time premiership winner was originally part of the illustrious retiring class of 2017 but the Lions' offer to play on next year looks like it will prove too tempting for the 33-year-old to ignore.
The offer will provide a pathway for Hodge to move into coaching once his playing days are over, similar to the deal that enticed former teammate Sam Mitchell to West Coast this year.
Speaking at Hawthorn's best and fairest awards night at the Crown Palladium on Saturday night, Clarkson said the thought of seeing Hodge deviate from being a one-club player was tearing him up inside.
"It's ripping my guts out in a sense that he's not going to play his whole career at Hawthorn but what flips against that is what's best for him, what's best for his wife and what's best for his three boys," Clarkson said.
"Whilst we'd all like Hodgey to retire as a Hawthorn player, we can't be that selfish about it because there's so much more to this decision. There's his wife, there's his three boys and there's his potential coaching future."
Hodge said he'd rarely entertained the thought of coaching but mentoring an injection of fresh blood at the Hawks this year had changed his view on becoming a clipboard holder.
"You talk about when the young guys come into the football club, they give energy," Hodge said.
"I felt like a young guy - just the fact I was running around with these young guys, just helping them and giving them a little bit of knowledge that I've learnt over my career.
"I always thought, 'Look at Clarko, you've got to be crazy to be a coach.' I never really thought that way but then I started to enjoy the teaching and the developing. That's when Fages (Brisbane coach Chris Fagan) said, 'You reckon you've got a little bit of football left?'"
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.