Magpies putting hopes on ruck duo - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpies putting hopes on ruck duo

By Sam Lienert 22/08/2009 09:05:38 AM Comments (0)

Having blossomed in Josh Fraser's absence, Collingwood now want to see if Cameron Wood can form a double act with his senior ruck partner that can give the side an AFL finals boost.

A knee injury which has kept Magpies' No.1 ruckman Fraser out of the side for the past five rounds has coincided with 22-year-old Wood producing the best form of his budding career.

The Magpies have long sought a reliable back-up to Fraser and the possibility of taking two in-form ruckmen into September is a luxury they have not had for at least a decade.

Almost invariably, AFL premiership sides of recent times have included two genuine ruckmen.

But, while delighted with Wood's form, assistant coach Mark Neeld said the club would know more about whether the pair could form a finals double act after Fraser returns against Sydney at the MCG on Sunday.

"What we want to do is have a look at it on Sunday and if they can work in tandem and both play well on Sunday then there's no reason that cannot continue," Neeld said.

"But we'll have a look at it Sunday and then we'll weigh that up."

But he had no doubt Fraser's absence had benefited Wood.

"He's spent more time on the ground, more time in the ruck, he's got his hands on the ball more, so obviously it's made him a better player," Neeld said.

"We've been pleased because there's been not this massive thing every week of saying `I wish Josh was playing' because Cameron's come in and played that role so well.

"Josh is really important to the way that we play and Cameron Wood has come along well in Josh's absence and is playing good footy.

"So if we can have two ruckmen that are fit and both confident and both in good form I think that makes us a better side... that certainly adds another dimension that we probably haven't had for a while."

After 11 wins in the past 12 rounds, only some percentage-draining disasters in the final two rounds could rob Collingwood of a top four berth.

But Neeld said the club's only focus was beating the Swans to put the double chance beyond mathematical doubt.

While they have triumphed in the clubs' past seven meetings, he said on Sydney was a club no opposition could treat lightly.

"The way that they go about their footy, they naturally get everyone's respect and it's really good for our players to be able to test ourselves against that type of football," Neeld said.

The Swans have mostly tried to turn their past clashes into low-scoring grinds.

But the Magpies anticipate a different tack this time from a Sydney outfit that have pushed top two clubs St Kilda and Geelong to within a kick in the past three rounds, with a thrashing of Richmond in between.

"They've got a different forward structure now that Barry Hall is not there and it appears to be a bit more free-flowing in what they're doing," he said.

"We're aware of that and we'll be interested to see what difference it makes."

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