Culture shock awaits Rotnei Clarke in Belgium: Forman

Rotnei Clarke going about his work with the Hawks in Wollongong last season.
Rotnei Clarke going about his work with the Hawks in Wollongong last season.


Wollongong captain Oscar Forman believes former Hawks hero Rotnei Clarke will miss life on the sunny South Coast more than he ever imagined.

Clarke was a sensation last season with the Hawks, averaging 21 points and capturing the prestigious Andrew Gaze Trophy as the NBL's Most Valuable Player.

After weighing up Wollongong's offer to return for the 2014-15 season, Clarke opted to play with Okapi Aalstar in the Belgium national league.

Unless he is lured back to the Hawks' one day down the track, the 180-centimetre sharpshooter will be remembered as a brilliant one-hit wonder.

Clarke was fresh out of college when he joined the Hawks and enjoyed a relatively smooth adjustment to the Australian way of life.

Forman suggested that might not be the case at Clarke's new club.

"I think with his personality, he'll start to appreciate what he had in Wollongong, because here he could get around easily, he knew people and fitted in well, and it was English-speaking," Forman said.

"It'll be interesting to see what happens, because Belgium's a fantastic part of the world but so is Wollongong.

"As a former teammate of Rotnei's, it's a shame he won't be in the NBL, because he was an exciting player. But as with a lot of other guys that come to Wollongong, you have a great year and learn some stuff and you move on with your pro career. You've got a short window to make a living, but I wouldn't be surprised if he misses the Wollongong lifestyle."

Centre Larry Davidson is confident there will be life after Rotnei for the Hawks.

"Everyone's kind of talking about Rotty not coming back, but one of the things you get out of having the core group of guys here is that we've got experience at bringing out the best in our imports, because we know what each of us can do," Davidson said.

"We've had Gary [Ervin] who was MVP and Rotty who was MVP, and while they're great individual players, it says a lot about the coaches and the group of guys we've got here. It's really allowed the imports to shine because we're all comfortable in our roles. That's the biggest advantage I see of having the same core group of guys around."

Hawks coach Gordie McLeod flew to the USA last Thursday to have a first-hand look at potential recruits.


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