Davis takes small step on big AFL stage - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Davis takes small step on big AFL stage

Sam Lienert 25/04/2011 08:06:04 PM Comments (0)

He has been been reinvented as a defender, now Leon Davis has taken a step towards reinventing himself as a big-game AFL player.

The 207-gamer, who has played most of his career as a goalsneak, was close to Collingwood's best player as a rebounding backman in Monday's Anzac Day win over Essendon.

After poor performances up forward in the three grand finals he has played - in 2002, 2003, and 2010 - Davis was dropped for last year's replay, leaving him with a reputation as a player who struggles on the big stage.

But coach Mick Malthouse vigorously insisted on Monday that, while one of his main criteria for judging players is their performances in big games, with Anzac Day the biggest outside finals, the 29-year-old had nothing to prove to him.

"You can judge him on the grand final," Malthouse told reporters.

"Since I've come to the football club, we've played in 19 finals matches, I think it's the most finals of any side in the 2000s, Leon would have been part of a lot of those.

"Early days as a young boy he probably played indifferently (in finals), played well in a few of them in the middle and he's had the odd bad one in recent times, but the odd one, not every one.

"If we want to crucify him for one game, that's fine, I've lost no faith in Leon and the side's lost no faith and he's lost no faith in himself."

Malthouse acknowledged last year's grand final axing would have knocked Davis around.

But he said the veteran had shown during a foray into attack on Monday, that even in his forward play he was still improving.

He said in the past, Davis would possibly have tried to produce a flashy passage of play ending in a goal for the highlight reels, but instead did the team thing and centred the ball this time.

"So life's little lessons - you never stop learning, he's 30 or thereabouts, and I think today he demonstrated he can play at either end quite capably."

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