Diplomat Mick hopeful of Clarke AFL return - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Diplomat Mick hopeful of Clarke AFL return

Tom Wald 23/10/2010 11:04:26 AM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse says he is "very hopeful" of luring former Magpies defender Marty Clarke back to the AFL.

The triple-premiership winning coach is treading a fine line in Ireland as the Australian coach for the International Rules series.

He is determined to ensure that his visit is not portrayed as a trip to plunder the best and brightest Gaelic football talent from Ireland.

The homesick Clarke returned to the Emerald Isle last year and his side Down narrowly lost last month's All-Ireland final.

Malthouse said he enjoyed catching up with Clarke at Thursday night's pre-series reception at Limerick's City Hall and fully appreciated the pull of the homeland on him.

"Very disappointed but we totally understood, but we are very hopeful," Malthouse said with a smile.

"I hope I have not offended too many people here."

Malthouse joked that he and premiership-winning Magpies Dane Swan and Tyson Goldsack had all spent plenty of time talking to Clarke at the function.

"I spent as much time as I could with him," he said at the pre-match press conference for Saturday night's International Rules series opener in Limerick.

"We had a reception here and I didn't leave his side and when I did, Dane Swan took over."

But Malthouse was also keen not to talk up Clarke's value to the Magpies too much, after all his men won the flag only three weeks ago.

Would he have played in the premiership winning side?

"He certainly would have pushing to be a part of it," Malthouse said.

"He is a wonderful player."

Malthouse said he had kept a close eye on Clarke's movements in Ireland this year as the 22-year-old led Down to its first All-Ireland final in 16 years.

"Whether he comes back or not, it would be great for us and great for him," Malthouse said.

A new rule introduced in August to give AFL clubs other options in recruiting players could allow Collingwood a chance to claim Clarke without him having to go in the draft.

The rule is for players that leave the game on compassionate grounds.

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