No grudges against ex-Eagle: Worsfold - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

No grudges against ex-Eagle: Worsfold

By Justin Chadwick 23/07/2008 05:01:31 PM Comments (0)

The year was 2003. Brisbane stormed to their third straight AFL premiership, Michael Gardiner was the dominant ruckman in the competition and Dean Cox was just happy to be his understudy.

How times have changed.

The clash for supremacy between teammates-cum-foes Cox and Gardiner shapes as the most interesting aspect of Saturday's clash between West Coast and St Kilda.

Gardiner, an All-Australian in 2003, was sent packing from West Coast in 2006 after one indiscretion too many, when he crashed his high-performance car into two parked vehicles while over the blood-alcohol limit.

But Gardiner's departure proved to be a blessing in disguise for Cox, who had assumed the No.1 ruck mantle at the club a few years earlier while Gardiner battled ongoing knee and foot injuries.

The 26-year-old, who was compared to the great Graham "Polly" Farmer by Brisbane coach Leigh Matthews earlier in the week, is well on his way to his fourth straight All-Australian guernsey despite battling a foot complaint for much of the season.

Gardiner, meanwhile, has been plagued by injuries since 2004.

He failed to notch an AFL appearance last season and has played just eight games for the Saints this year, spending the past fortnight in the VFL with the Casey Scorpions in his comeback from a hamstring strain.

But Justin Koschitzke's one-match ban for striking has opened the door for Gardiner's return to his old hunting ground of Subiaco Oval as back-up to Steven King.

West Coast coach John Worsfold has kept a keen eye on Gardiner's progress at St Kilda but said he had no regrets about letting his former charge go.

"It wasn't that acrimonious," Worsfold said of the split.

"It was a decision that we made and I think Michael understood why.

"He wasn't able to live the values we were looking for and consistently fell short in those areas.

"It was a pretty straightforward decision for us to make but I didn't hold any hard feelings against him because we are all different.

"I haven't spoken to Michael directly but we've followed how he's going (at St Kilda) and from all accounts he's going extremely well both on and off the field, which is great.

"He's enjoying life and doing well.

"I hope he doesn't come out and play to his ability (against us on Saturday) because he's a very good footballer."

Meanwhile, Eagles captain Darren Glass has a thigh strain and is facing a race against time to prove his fitness for the weekend's match.

"If there's a high risk of him tearing it then we won't play him," Worsfold said.

"Even if he feels as though he might be able to get through we've got to read the risk and we'll do that."

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