Hawthorn Hawks champion small forward Cyril Rioli.
Hawthorn Hawks champion small forward Cyril Rioli. JOE CASTRO AAP

Alastair Clarkson returns but hamstring puts Cyril Rioli out

LADDER leaders Hawthorn received some good news and some very bad news yesterday.

The good news was that two-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson returned to lead the team at training. Clarkson stepped down from his position in May after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Assistant coach Brendon Bolton took the reins in Clarkson's absence and oversaw five straight wins, taking Hawthorn to the top of the table after Port's loss to the Crows on Sunday.

But Clarkson will be without champion small forward Cyril Rioli for up to 10 weeks after scans confirmed he had re-injured his hamstring against the Suns on the weekend.

Rioli's loss was tempered by news former skipper Sam Mitchell is set to return from a hamstring injury against the Kangaroos on Friday night, and defender Josh Gibson should be back from his pectoral problem against the Swans in round 18.