Pies want Rocca to take on Scarlett - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pies want Rocca to take on Scarlett

By Sam Lienert 22/05/2008 06:28:44 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse has challenged star AFL forward Anthony Rocca to come up with a new method for dealing with his Geelong nemesis Matthew Scarlett.

Friday night's MCG clash will be the first time the Magpies and Cats have met since last year's famous preliminary final, in which Geelong scraped home by five points, the only time they were pushed during the finals series.

One of the major deficiencies for Collingwood on that occasion was Rocca's failure to make an impact, picking up just four touches and no goals, while Scarlett regularly set up Geelong attacks.

While Rocca went into that match under an injury cloud, Scarlett, widely acclaimed as the AFL's best defender, has made a habit of dominating their one-on-one duels.

In their other encounter last year, during the home and away season, the Geelong backman ran riot to be close to best-afield, with Malthouse admitting it was a worrying trend the veteran Collingwood forward had to reverse.

"He's the best fullback going around, isn't he, so if he's playing on Anthony, Anthony's got to do something different," Malthouse said.

"I'm sure Anthony will look back over his last couple of games and think, `what did I do wrong and what do I need to do?'

"Really, the challenge goes out to these individuals.

"They can be coached and persuaded and so forth but at the end of the day if a player is chosen and particularly a player who's chosen beyond three or four years (against the same team), he's had a fair chance of looking at it.

"Then you'd like to think that teammates are there for assistance, but also it's up to the individual to change the fortunes."

The importance of Rocca's contribution to the Collingwood side is indicated by the major role he played in their two winning finals last season - kicking six goals against Sydney and three against West Coast - before failing to fire against Geelong.

But the 236-game, 409-goal veteran will enter Friday night's match in poor form, having kicked just one goal and taken no more than three marks in each of his past three games, interspersed by an ankle injury.

Asked about the importance of Rocca and fellow key forward Travis Cloke, the Magpies' reigning best and fairest, firing against the Cats, Malthouse simply said everyone needed to be at their best to have a chance.

"You need all players playing well against those top sides as we proved against Hawthorn," he said.

"We didn't have too many play well against Hawthorn and they flogged us and that's (going to be) the same outcome if you don't have players playing well, particularly against the best sides."

Collingwood are also banking on the presence of ruckman Josh Fraser, who was on Thursday night named to return from a knee injury.

Fraser sat out last year's preliminary final because of injury and the Magpies felt his absence, as Geelong's Brad Ottens was the dominant player, although the big Cat is yet to play this season and will be absent on Friday night.

Malthouse said he would attach extra weight to how individuals in his team performed against Geelong, as he valued big-game performers.

"History is a wonderful tool to use and sometimes you go back through history and find the same players play very well against sides that everyone expects them to play well against," he said.

"And some players through history have proven that they struggle against top sides or on the big occasion.

"So I don't think there's any escaping the fact that I'd like to think a player who is challenged by the best side can perform."

Malthouse pilloried a suggestion that the unbeaten Cats were not at the same level as the side that stormed to last year's premiership.

"(I agree with) exactly what I think I heard one of their players say: `What do you really expect?' They're 8-0," he said.

"I'll swap, let's play games and they can have (Collingwood's) 4-4 and I'll take their 8-0."

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