Malthouse to judge players on Anzac Day - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Malthouse to judge players on Anzac Day

By Roger Vaughan 24/04/2008 07:25:13 PM Comments (0)

Anzac Day is judgement day for Collingwood's players in the mind of coach Mick Malthouse.

While Malthouse the historian sees the AFL blockbuster against Essendon as far more than just a game, Malthouse the coach knows the intense pressure of playing at the MCG in front of more than 90,000 fans is an invaluable test.

In late-April, he can see which players might have what it takes to succeed in September.

"It is different - it's a judgmental day, I will certainly be judging players on their capacity to play before a big crowd and the occasion," he said on Wednesday.

"I've always rated finals as a precursor to whether you keep players on your list or not, whether they can hold up, and I don't really see a great deal of difference, quite frankly, in this game.

"Players are expected to hold up on this day."

The Magpies team named on Tuesday night features five players who have not previously played for Collingwood on Anzac Day - Nathan Brown, Paul Medhurst, Tyson Goldsack, Cameron Wood and Ryan Cook.

It will also be a new experience for several Essendon players and their coach, Matthew Knights.

Predictably, Malthouse would not be drawn on specific instances where he has drawn a line through a player because he was found wanting on a big day.

But he warned that it had happened.

"Suffice to say, I've been involved in a number of Anzac Days, plus finals, and there are some who have come up short," he said.

"There have been others who have jumped up and I've thought `they've shown a bit'."

The two sides are undermanned and battling early-season form woes heading into the match.

They have lost their last two games and have unspectacular 2-3 win-loss records.

The `Pies are again without captain Scott Burns (calf), while Brodie Holland and Ben Reid are out with leg injuries.

Nick Maxwell will return from suspension and Cook was recalled.

Essendon, cruelled by hamstring injuries in the last few weeks, curiously left out Nathan Lovett-Murray for Courtney Johns, who is yet to play senior football this season because of injury.

But Malthouse does not think the two sides are struggling and has little doubt they will rise to the occasion.

"I don't know whether the form is exactly diabolical by either side," he said.

"There's no doubt, it doesn't matter where the clubs are ... you're still going to attract a crowd and it's going to be a big game for both clubs.

"The occasion will determine my assessment of the group.

"Under the circumstances, it doesn't matter how the form is, but I don't think it's as bad as it seems."

Key forward Anthony Rocca did not train on Thursday, but Malthouse expected the side to line up as named.

Malthouse also would not buy into some recent by-play between Collingwood and Essendon over the last two days about whether the Magpies were foxing ahead of Anzac Day.

Knights strongly doubted comments from Josh Fraser and Rhyce Shaw that Collingwood were feeling the effects of a rigorous pre-season.

Malthouse dead-batted the subject, saying he "wouldn't have thought" his team was struggling.

Meanwhile, Essendon could lose midfielder Alwyn Davey for the rest of the AFL season with a knee injury.

Davey will undergo scans on Monday after hurting himself at training earlier Thursday.

The Bombers will not speculate publicly on the injury, but privately they are worried it could mean a knee reconstruction.

Football manager David Calthorpe was quoted on the club website as saying they were "quite concerned" about Davey's injury.

Essendon are in the midst of a shocking run with injury so far this season.

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