Thomas backs Buckley as an AFL coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thomas backs Buckley as an AFL coach

By Roger Vaughan 28/10/2008 06:30:59 PM Comments (0)

While Nathan Buckley remains uncertain about his AFL coaching aspirations, former team-mate Dale Thomas is convinced the ex-Collingwood captain could make it in the big time because he's a skilled communicator.

Buckley and Thomas have been re-united in the Australian squad for this month's two-Test international rules series against Ireland.

Buckley is an assistant coach and Thomas, his former Collingwood team-mate, made his national debut in Friday night's one-point loss at Subiaco.

It is widely assumed that Buckley, one of the game's modern greats, will eventually become a senior AFL coach.

But he insists that option remains open and working as an assistant to Mick Malthouse in the Australian team is an obvious chance for Buckley to gain coaching experience.

Thomas is certain that if Buckley wants to coach in the AFL, he will do it as well as he played the game.

"He did a fair bit of coaching when he was actually playing, he's always had that high focus on leadership and explaining the game," Thomas said.

"It's good to have him here, he's played the game so he can help me out a bit, too."

Thomas grinned and then added: "I know he fancies himself - but no, he's certainly a fantastic coach.

"He's a very good explainer of the game and a very good teacher ... he's got such a wealth of knowledge and he can communicate that well."

Thomas and fellow Magpie Scott Pendlebury have had plenty of familiarity in the Australian team, given Buckley's presence and Malthouse also coaching them at Collingwood.

"He's a bit more relaxed than the normal, Mick," Thomas said.

"He's another who understands all facets of sports so well and this one is no different, he can communicate that and he's certainly helped me out a bit."

Australia will play Ireland in the second and deciding Test this Friday night at the MCG.

Similar to most AFL players when they first play against Ireland, Thomas said he was still trying to adapt to the round ball.

"It's one of those things, the more comfortable you are in your environment, the better decisions you make and the easier the skills become to execute," he said.

"I'm certainly going to do a bit more work on kicking this week, I put one out on the full there at one stage, which was a bit embarrassing.

"Certainly all the boys will hone up the skills a bit.

"It's a lot tougher to kick and probably the biggest thing is reading the ball in the air, whereas you can the Irish, they read it a whole lot better and get in better spots."

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