Clarkson still unsure on racism investigation timeline

Four-time AFL premiership coach Alastair Clarkson says it remains unclear about when he will be called to make a submission to the inquiry into racism allegations at Hawthorn.

Clarkson has denied any wrongdoing when he was coach of the Hawks and is prepared to cooperate with the independent panel in charge of the investigation.

But there is no resolution in sight - almost six months after the AFL announced the investigation - as Clarkson prepares for his first game as coach of North Melbourne.

The Kangaroos take on West Coast in a round-one meeting at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.

"No I haven't (spoken to the investigators), and that process will just unfold as it will," Clarkson told reporters on Friday.

"But footy season's upon us now, so we'll just roll our sleeves up and when they give us a call they'll let us know."

Clarkson said he is putting all his energy into coaching North while the investigation continues in the background.

"I still need to address it, of course, and from time to time we try to understand where it's all at," Clarkson said.

"But by and large, the fortunate thing is I've got 45 players that are trying to be the best that they can possibly be and lift themselves up off (the bottom of) the ladder.

"Fortunately for me that's where most of my focus has been."

Clarkson again defended his right to protect his players when quizzed on his response to last month's clash with a female journalist.

The 54-year-old apologised in person to the reporter but could not guarantee his fiery temper would not flare up again.

"I'm a competitive beast but I'll always protect our players if I think something's been untoward," Clarkson said.

"We've got a workplace ourselves, too, that we need need to protect and we'll do that if we think things have been inappropriate."

Clarkson lashed out at the journalist in defence of under-fire Kangaroos youngster Tarryn Thomas, who took time away from the club while being investigated for allegations of "inappropriate behaviour".

Thomas has since returned to North Melbourne but is not yet in the mix for an AFL return, with Clarkson declaring the 22-year-old "three or four weeks" away.