Young AFL defenders 'being ignored' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Young AFL defenders 'being ignored'

By Robert Grant 09/04/2008 02:22:01 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse has delivered a broadside at the AFL for relying on eye-catching performances to select their best young player each round.

In an open criticism of the selectors, Malthouse said high-possession winners usually won the NAB Rising Star award while defenders were generally overlooked.

He implied Collingwood's 18-year-old key defender Nathan Brown would have been a worthy winner of the award after a brilliant start to his debut season.

The former elite basketballer has coped impressively this year holding three of the most prolific forwards in the competition - Fremantle's Matthew Pavlich, Brisbane's Jonathan Brown and Richmond's Matthew Richardson.

And he is set to stand Brendan Fevola in this Sunday's blockbuster against Carlton at the MCG.

Malthouse said he was unable to understand the formula the league's football operations department used in selecting the rising Star nominee.

"I get a little bit mystified why players who don't get a lot of football seem to get ignored in the NAB Rising Star award," Malthouse said.

"I think you have to have 30 possessions or 20 possessions before you get looked at.

"I don't know whether they actually take into consideration the calibre of the opponent they're playing on.

"Nathan's first three games anyway have been good enough to be one of our better players."

Of the 15 winners since the Rising Star award began in 1993 just one has been a dedicated defender - Melbourne's Jared Rivers in 2004.

Magpie defender Tyson Goldsack, voted the club's best first-year player last year, was not nominated for the award until round 21.

"I never get surprised at NAB Rising Star nominees, given that I think it was very late in the (2007) season that (Tyson) Goldsack got nominated," Malthouse said.

He said Brown was set to take on Fevola this weekend in yet another major test as he did not believe in easing players into games.

"He's a key back. Fevola's a key forward. I'm not going to hide players. If they're good enough to play, they're good enough to play," Malthouse said.

"I don't go for easing players in, I don't go for soft options.

"If the player matches up he plays on that player."

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