Didak bracing for more close attention - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Didak bracing for more close attention

By Adam Cooper 23/07/2009 06:24:39 PM Comments (0)

Alan Didak has endured his share of close attention in the AFL over the years, during his days as a trouble-prone Collingwood star.

Although confident his brushes with the law are behind him, Didak has earned another run-in with the boys in Blue, this time in Friday night's blockbuster against Carlton at the MCG.

The Magpies are hopeful their in-form playmaker can handle a close tag better than last Saturday night against Hawthorn, when his frustration led to him repeatedly wrestling and shoving opponent Ben McGlynn.

McGlynn's success in playing Didak tight and needling him was noted by Carlton coach Brett Ratten, who looks set to employ the same methods given the significance of the round 17 opener for the arch rivals.

One game and a slither of percentage separates the Magpies (fourth) and Blues (seventh), who are both in the hunt for the top four double chance.

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse has warned Didak what to expect and the midfielder said he had to be prepared to absorb any negating tactics the likes of Carlton's Aaron Joseph might employ.

"I suppose if you're playing good footy you've got to expect close attention and you look at all the superstars of the game, they get tagged week in week out," Didak said on Thursday.

Before his dip against the Hawks, Didak amassed more than 30 disposals in five games running and his creativity and impact was instrumental in the Pies' surge up the ladder.

That career-best form came after two tumultuous years which culminated in him nearly losing his place at Collingwood over a drink-driving incident.

As Didak sat out last year's finals campaign through a club-imposed suspension, he feared he might be traded.

Given one more chance, he became the fittest he had ever been, worked harder than in previous years, took on a mentoring role and worked out his priorities.

"I've just become more professional as a footballer and I've taken that into the season and I'm reaping the rewards now," said Didak, 26, who is poised to play his 150th game.

"I knew that I was really keen to stay at Collingwood after the bad times, it was up to me and I really showed in the pre-season that I wanted to be here and the club was keen to keep me here.

"In previous years I was probably 30 per cent (focused on) footy and 70 per cent enjoying my time with my mates and family.

"But now it's probably the other way around, I've really got to a stage where I want to be a full-time footballer.

"I've worked hard on a few areas and it's starting to pay off."

Didak said Collingwood-Carlton games had an extra edge to them, but Malthouse rebuffed that theory, saying the result far outweighed any bragging rights.

"This one takes on massive significance when you consider they win they go in front of us, we win we go two games in front," he said.

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