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Don't take Tigers lightly: Malthouse

14/08/2009 07:26:12 PM Comments (0)

Having gained the most from the carnage of round 19, Collingwood will have their own AFL perils to negotiate on Saturday at the MCG.

Collingwood meet Richmond after beating Adelaide at AAMI Stadium, amid a succession of upset results last weekend.

It meant the Magpies took third spot from the Western Bulldogs, who amazingly lost to West Coast, and solidified their spot in the top four with three rounds left.

While Collingwood's conditioning staff start preparing for the impending short break between round 22 and the first week of the finals, coach Mick Malthouse is wary of what Richmond might bring to Saturday's match.

"We cannot dismiss the game against Richmond right in front of us," Malthouse said.

"That's the game we've got to put all our focus into.

"We're playing a side that has won two-and-a-half games out of their last four, it's not as if they are mugs."

The Tigers are 14th and coming off a bad loss to Sydney, with the performance prompting a fierce post-match critique from caretaker coach Jade Rawlings.

Malthouse says Rawlings is clearly relishing the opportunity to coach in the AFL and the Magpies must dissect the subtle differences in how the Tigers are playing under him.

Apart from the NAB Cup, Collingwood also have not played Richmond since round three last season, plus Richmond have won three of their last five matches.

"We're far more mature than what we were then," Malthouse said.

"But you're right, they are the games that can creep up on you, as they have with nearly every team at some stage through the year."

A surprise loss to Richmond, who will farewell veteran Joel Bowden, would do major damage to Collingwood's top-four goal.

They are a game ahead of the Bulldogs, but have an inferior percentage, while Brisbane are another half a game behind in fifth.

The Lions and `Dogs clash on Saturday night at the `Gabba in a match that Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade readily describes as "massive".

While Malthouse tries to dissect Richmond, he has directed respected Collingwood conditioning coach David Buttifant to plan for round 22.

The league's likely decision to maintain the round 22 schedule means Collingwood and the Bulldogs will probably have six-day breaks for the first week of the finals.

They play the Sunday night twilight game and there have been requests to move the match to Friday or Saturday.

But as with all AFL scheduling issues, there are significant complications involving the television broadcasters, venues and bookings.

"It didn't matter (if that match was) Saturday, Sunday or Friday - his responsibilities are not just immediate," Malthouse said of Buttifant.

"He does get his head around the full year.

"October, I knew the draw - so things (change) very slowly in those sorts of things, if they change at all.

"It's not a great drama in my case."

One major advantage that Malthouse should have for the start of the finals is his player list currently looks very healthy.

Josh Fraser and Anthony Rocca are pressing for senior recalls, while Sean Rusling is also set to resume in the VFL.

Meanwhile, Collingwood utility Leigh Brown will play his 200th game on Saturday and Malthouse said he had been a solid recruit for the `Pies this season.

"Every one has said the same thing, that he's a really decent bloke - it's a bonus to the club if you can recruit a player who has that about him and also the capability to play footy," Malthouse said.

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