Malthouse backs Fraser to regain form - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Malthouse backs Fraser to regain form

By Roger Vaughan 22/04/2010 06:34:23 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse has strongly backed Josh Fraser to regain his AFL form once he adjusts to his new role.

Nearly a year after former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas controversially accused Fraser of "dogging" during the Anzac Day loss to Essendon, the Magpies big man is struggling to produce anywhere near his best.

Former Sydney premiership ruckman Darren Jolly's arrival has seen Fraser recast primarily as a mobile tall forward, who provides ruck back-up to Jolly.

But Malthouse has noted that after Essendon ruckman Patrick Ryder won the Anzac Medal in the Bombers' memorable win last year, Fraser turned the tables the next time the two teams played.

Collingwood and Essendon will play in their annual Anzac Day blockbuster on Sunday at the MCG.

"Josh is adjusting to a second ruck role, there's no question Darren Jolly is our principal ruckman at this stage," Malthouse said.

"I will just give you a friendly reminder that there's no doubt that Patrick Ryder was very, very good in that first game last year.

"Josh was below par in that game ... whatever weeks later, when we played Essendon again, Josh was best on ground.

"He has a wonderful pride in his own performances and knowing Josh, I'm sure he will rebound and come to grips with (the fact) he's not going to spend the 80 per cent he was used to in the ruck."

Malthouse has also defended the right of the two clubs to play the Anzac Day game, which they have done since 1995.

There is debate about whether other teams should have the honour, but he says Collingwood and Essendon deserve it after the work they have done to promote the clash.

"I don't see any reason why it would change - I'm not part of the AFL ... they choose the draw and they've seen fit to give Collingwood and Essendon that opportunity on a year-to-year basis," he said.

"History has shown that's not a matter of where you are on the ladder, it doesn't matter where your form lies, it is simply the two sides go out there.

"I'm not sure of the actual numbers for and against, but I reckon they're pretty close ... most games are played very much in the right spirit.

"The clubs handle that spirit very well and I'm pretty sure that the games themselves are of a quality that people in the grandstands or watching on TV see (that it's) fit enough for those sides to participate."

Essendon memorably came back late in the game last year to beat Collingwood, a result that infuriated Malthouse.

"It's got to be mentioned and no doubt those who played in it, will remember it," Malthouse said.

"I remember it, I'm sure the players remember it."

Malthouse argues that Anzac Day is the second-biggest game of the year, only behind the grand final.

"You have this elimination of where the (sides are) on the ladder and their previous form, because it hasn't counted in the last 15-16 years, so why would it count this year?" he said.

"It's simply playing a very talented group of players from the opposition on what we'd class as the biggest day outside the grand final.

"That puts massive pressure on players' minds, so I thrive in the knowledge ... I can see into the soul of players, in many respects, to see how they cope with those moments on the big stage."

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