Rocca comeback on cards, fitness a worry - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rocca comeback on cards, fitness a worry

By Sam Lienert 22/08/2008 03:50:10 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse has not given up on star forward Anthony Rocca returning for the AFL finals but admits a lack of match practice could hurt his cause.

The 31-year-old has not played since having ankle surgery in late June but the Magpies are hopeful they will keep their season alive long enough for him to come back some time in September.

"He's up and running and will be touch and go, but if he gets the all-clear he's ready to go, he's making steady progress," Malthouse said.

However, the Collingwood coach conceded a comeback would be complicated by their reserves side being out of the VFL finals race.

It means the big forward would have to return straight to the senior side, after what is already a two-month absence, which Malthouse said was not ideal.

He said the same issue applied to young key forward Ben Reid, who has been out over the same period with a foot injury.

"The instance with Anthony is the classical one, that if we're fortunate enough to make it and go through the finals series, you'd like to think that at some stage if it's too late for him to play VFL and they're not in the finals then it's all done on the training track, they're the downsides," Malthouse said.

"... As much as it is a concern it's not the be all and end all that you don't or do play a bloke.

"You can still fit a lot of work into people on the training track.

"They obviously lack match practice, but you try to simulate that with players that are left over and hopefully get something from that."

Malthouse also said improvements in training facilities and methods compared with five years ago made it easier for players to find touch without a lead-up game.

Meanwhile, the Magpies coach was sceptical of suggestions from Sydney coach Paul Roos that the Swans would alter their game plan for Saturday night's Telstra Dome clash, after being beaten by Collingwood five times straight.

"He's got a team that has performed very well playing a certain role for five or six years," Malthouse said.

"So if they're changing their game plan or strategies because of us we've achieved something that not many other sides have been able to achieve, that Sydney changes their game plan.

"We'll just have to see, we've got to take into consideration all sorts of scenarios."

But Sydney fullback Leo Barry said while the style of play might be tinkered with, a lift in attitude was more important.

"There might be a few different structural things, we've pretty much played the same plan we've had in previous seasons, so there might be a few things he (Roos) might change," Barry said.

"It won't be massive change, I think it will really be determined on whether we turn up to play or not, that will be the biggest factor on the result."

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