BRENDON Bolton's first experience as a senior AFL coach was an enjoyable one as Hawthorn downed North Melbourne by 65-points at Aurora Stadium on Friday night, an opportunity that he was grateful to receive.
Bolton, 34, was the Hawks' stand-in coach in their 18.10 (118) to 8.5 (53) NAB Challenge win on one of his former home grounds in Launceston, with senior coach Alastair Clarkson spending the night as the bench coach.
Post-game, Bolton, who is Hawthorn's forward-line coach, said he was grateful for the chance to lead the team, even if it was only for one night.
"It's a real credit to our coach, but it's a real credit to our coaching staff and [football operations manager] Chris Fagan and Clarko for allowing us [to do this]," Bolton said on Friday night.
"He not only wants to develop foootballers, but he wants to develop coaches and people.
"I know it's once-off, and you gain great experience from it and I appreciate the opportunity more than anything.
"There's lots of parts of the game that you get stressed at in the box at times. You might go short instead of long when going inside 50, that you can get edgy about, so it's all good fun and part of the experience."
Meanwhile, North Melbourne coach Brad Scott said it was likely his Tasmanian defender Nathan Grima would be back on the park for North's final practice match in a fortnight.
The 28-year-old from Evandale has only recently returned to full training after having a preseason plagued by his troubled back.
"We were hoping [he would play] this week," Scott said.
"Medically he was fit to play, but he hasn't done enough training or done enough work, so we certainly didn't want to put him at risk as he's a really important player to us.
"Hopefully he can put together two weeks of solid training and be available for our next game."
Devonport's Grant Birchall is expected to play in Hawthorn's practice match against Melbourne at Casey Fields on Saturday, March 8, after missing Friday night's game as he is having his preseason workload managed.
North Melbourne's final hit- out before round 1 will be against Geelong at Simonds Stadium on Friday, March 7.