Mick backs Davis to light up grand final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mick backs Davis to light up grand final

By Roger Vaughan 24/09/2010 06:20:27 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse has continued his strong defence of Leon Davis, saying the forward is judged unfairly by the ghosts of AFL grand finals past.

Collingwood have recalled Davis as well as key defender Simon Prestigiacomo for Saturday's premiership decider against St Kilda.

Significantly, Davis and Prestigiacomo are among only six members of Saturday's 22 who have grand final experience.

But there are legitimate questions marks over the pair, with Prestigiacomo out since round 20 because of a badly-corked thigh.

And while Davis was a late withdrawal from the preliminary final win over Geelong because of hamstring soreness, the risk with him is more based on reputation.

He notoriously did not manage a disposal in the 2002 grand final loss and was also found wanting the following year when Brisbane smashed the Magpies.

While Davis won All-Australian selection last year, his form tapered towards the end of the season and he only kicked one goal in three finals.

But Malthouse has insisted Davis would command close attention from the Saints defence.

"He does add value in a number of positions, he draws a good opponent, he (has) vast experience," Malthouse said.

"If we're going to judge him on 2002, 2003 when he was a young lad, we're sadly misgiven.

"His record against the Saints, Cats and (in) finals football in the last three years - we've gone back and we think he's got votes in over half of them, from memory.

"That's a pretty good strike rate."

Likewise, captain Nick Maxwell and the rest of the Collingwood defence will welcome back Prestigiacomo, their big backline general.

Maxwell praised younger key defender Nathan Brown, who made way for Prestigiacomo, but admitted it was good to have the veteran back.

The other omission is Tyson Goldsack, also a defender.

"There are probably eight or 10 guys who could have been in that back six," Maxwell said.

"It's great to have Presti back, obviously he's very well-respected.

"When you hear opposition talk about him, that probably sells it - when you have guys like Jonathan Brown and Barry Hall say he's the hardest bloke to play on.

"That obviously gives you a lot of confidence."

Team members Ben Johnson and Alan Didak are also veterans of the 2002-03 grand finals, while recruit Darren Jolly is the only current Magpie with an AFL premiership.

He played in Sydney's victorious 2005 team and was also there in 2006 when they lost to West Coast.

Their other big-name recruit this season, onballer Luke Ball, was a member of the St Kilda that lost last year's grand final to Geelong.

Emergency Tarkyn Lockyer, newly-retired midfielder Shane O'Bree and ruckman Josh Fraser are other players on the Collingwood list who are veterans of the 2002-03 grand finals.

Fremantle key defender Chris Tarrant, who could return to Collingwood next season, Heath Scotland (Carlton) and Rhyce Shaw (Sydney) are other members of those teams still playing at other clubs.

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