It's been a while for North, Collingwood - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

It's been a while for North, Collingwood

By Robert Grant and Roger Vaughan 18/04/2008 05:10:41 PM Comments (0)

North Melbourne will run out into the unknown against Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday night.

The two teams have not met since the start of last season and both have significantly changed character.

The Magpies will be without retirees Nathan Buckley, James Clement and Paul Licuria, while the Roos lost popular defender Glenn Archer to retirement and regained forward Nathan Thompson.

North coach Dean Laidley said both sides faced a new test after such a long break.

"We haven't played them for 30 games, which is just staggering in this competition, (from) round one last year to round five this year," Laidley said.

"A lot of water's gone under the bridge, they're vastly different sides I would imagine so again we're looking forward to the challenge."

But his counterpart Mick Malthouse scoffed when asked if it was a concern not to have played North for so long.

"You've got 16 teams with 22 rounds, there are always going to be some issues," he said.

"'Is that an issue for North Melbourne' - let me reassure you, every side is a different side.

"We play Carlton in another six weeks, they'll be a different side and we'll be different, you don't get caught up in that sort of stuff."

What has concerned Malthouse over the last few days is the nature of their round-four loss to the Blues.

Malthouse said too many Carlton players were prominent and Collingwood let themselves down with aspects of their game in the 23-point loss.

"We've come to the conclusion that nine players of Carlton would have been ahead of our first player - not because we weren't trying, not for any other reason than we were beaten by those players," he said.

"How do you address that? - is it attitude, I wouldn't have thought it's attitude, it shouldn't be attitude, is it pace? I wouldn't have thought we're necessarily slower than our opponents.

"Is it productivity? - yep, because we got the ball inside 50 more and we didn't capitalise, so there's a little bit of work to be done there.

"Is it the ease with which the opposition scored? - yep, so there's a bit of work to be done there."

Collingwood will welcome back midfielder Brodie Holland, who only managed seven senior games last year because of suspension and injury.

Malthouse said Holland needed to be careful with his aggression, following his six-game ban at the end of the 2006 season, but added the onballer would give the team an extra dimension.

"He brings to us something different, Brodie, and that's what we're very, very keen to introduce back into the side," he said.

"He's a different midfielder than what we've got."

Captain Scott Burns will miss for the second week with a calf muscle injury, but Malthouse said he would returned next weekend.

Laidley said the performance of the senior North players would prove the key to the outcome.

"The thing about it is if our core group stands up, we've probably got roughly the same amount of guys as Collingwood in that area, they're the guys who are going to have a significant impact on the game," Laidley said.

He also expects a furious opening after Collingwood's surprise loss to Carlton last weekend.

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