Magpie challenge: maintain the standard - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpie challenge: maintain the standard

By John Salvado 30/05/2008 05:15:23 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood demolished Geelong not by beating the reigning premiers at their own game, but by being true to themselves.

Now the challenge for the Magpies is to maintain that standard against West Coast at the MCG on Saturday in what - on paper at least - shapes as the first of three more likely AFL victories.

A ferocious tackling display from Collingwood formed the platform for the 86-point victory last weekend, which was only the Cats' second loss in 29 games.

"I don't subscribe to the fact that if that's the way Geelong play, that's the way you should play, because maybe you try and change the players into something they're not," Magpies coach Mick Malthouse said.

"I'd prefer to look at it and say `if Geelong are the best, as they were last year, and Hawthorn and them and the Western Bulldogs are this year - let's have a look'.

"But we can't emulate them, and quite frankly I don't think we can because we're different.

"That's not to say we can't beat them, it just simply says we have to do things differently, that our side is quite capable of doing."

After a horror start to the season, West Coast will at least take winning form into the clash, having belted Adelaide last weekend for only their second success of 2008.

And they will welcome back gun midfielder Daniel Kerr from suspension and hard nut Beau Waters from a groin injury.

"We're playing a good football side," said Malthouse.

"I've had a close look at their last couple of games and I think they've turned their season around and they've probably done it because of their young kids, their enthusiasm."

In the next two weeks, Collingwood will also start as short-priced favourites against Melbourne and Carlton, setting up what could be a genuine tilt at the top four by the seventh-placed Magpies.

But for Malthouse, it's about maintaining standards, rather than crystal-ball gazing.

"Our blokes have got to be switched on, maintain their individual performance and that then collectively means that you can play reasonable football," said Malthouse.

"The great sides have been able to achieve that for a number of weeks through a year, but it eventually gets them as well.

"We don't see great sides last more than two or three seasons these days.

"... You don't want to have a very good win followed by a very poor loss, because you haven't got your attitude right."

Key forward Anthony Rocca made a welcome return to form against Geelong, often dragging his direct opponent and Cats prime mover Matthew Scarlett out of the play.

He is in the latter stages of a career spent playing the toughest position of all and Malthouse said Rocca was probably always going to be in some doubt on a weekly basis.

"But he will play more games than he misses," said the coach.

"He will play sore at times, he will play free of pain rarely,.

"He's a player at 30 years of age who has been through a fair bit.

"He knows how to carry it, we think we know how to get him over the line and we think we know how to get the best out of him."

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