Prestigiacomo to play 200th AFL game - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Prestigiacomo to play 200th AFL game

By John Salvado 23/04/2009 03:23:23 PM Comments (0)

When he first took on the coaching job at Collingwood more than nine years ago, Mick Malthouse had his doubts about fullback Simon Prestigiacomo.

So much so that Malthouse overlooked him for his first match in charge - the one-off millennium game against Carlton on New Year's Eve 1999.

Carlton spearhead Brendan Fevola duly booted a record 12 goals against the harried Magpies defence.

And Malthouse quickly changed his opinion of Prestigiacomo, who plays his 200th AFL game in Saturday's traditional Anzac Day clash against Essendon.

"I can say this right now, but I was uncertain (about Prestigiacomo) when I first arrived at this football club," Malthouse said on Thursday.

"Probably too often in relationships with players I'd coached who'd played on him and I'm talking about (West Coast full-forwards Peter) Sumich and certainly Scott Cummings, they all had a piece of him.

And maybe the way West Coast were going against Collingwood, I think we won most of those games and my opinion of Simon was based on those games.

"So I thought when I first arrived here ... that we seriously needed to consider another fullback."

Hence the failed millennium game experiment.

And the big reappraisal that has the 31-year-old Prestigiacomo now one of the first players picked every week by the Magpies.

"So that's how far I was off and these are the lessons in life," said Malthouse.

"Simon Prestigiacomo came back into the side and I had a greater appreciation of what Simon does and how he goes about his work."

The fullback is famed in equal measure for his ability to shut down the league's best forwards and for the rarity of his public utterances.

Brisbane captain Jonathan Brown noted last week that in all their encounters through the years, he could not recall Prestigiacomo saying a single word to him.

"I'm sure he's got two jobs - one with us and one in the Humphrey Bear suit - and he does both very well," quipped Malthouse.

"He's fantastic to have around the football club and I just think it's a testament to his durability, his loyalty to his football club,

"There's not one ounce of a problem, if you set him a task he does it.

"I just feel so privileged to be a part of his big day and it just happens to be a massive day for the football club."

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