Magpies have turbulent buildup for Blues - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpies have turbulent buildup for Blues

Roger Vaughan 15/07/2011 08:54:15 PM Comments (0)

Beyond the Collingwood betting punishments and what Mick Malthouse's future holds, the Magpies have an AFL match on Saturday.

And it's much more than just another home-and-away clash - a blockbuster against arch-rivals Carlton that could attract more than 90,000 fans.

Before the major stories of Thursday and Friday, the Magpies were looking rock-solid in their premiership defence and had regained top spot.

Carlton desperately need to upset Collingwood after poor efforts in the last three weeks against West Coast and the Western Bulldogs.

Now Saturday's clash also becomes a question of how the Collingwood defence will fare without Heath Shaw, who starts an eight-week ban for a betting offence.

Captain Nick Maxwell was also fined on Friday for a betting-related matter but he insists the Magpies will quickly put the matter behind him.

Then there's Malthouse, who said on Thursday night there is a slight chance he might not be at the club next year.

Speaking before the betting penalties were announced on Friday afternoon, Malthouse spoke of the importance of Saturday's clash.

He dismissed the historical rivalry between the two clubs, saying that was for the fans, but noted the importance of beating another top-four side ahead of the finals.

This is the first time since 1988 that the two team have been this high on the ladder, this late in the season.

"That's the added incentive, if you like, about this game," Malthouse said.

"There's nothing stopping (us) ... clashing again at the end of the year, so the psychological advantage (of a win) is massive."

Collingwood recalled Ben Johnson for the match and Malthouse said he was determined to ensure that there would be a good spread of players with plenty of senior games ahead of the finals.

Malthouse said that was a mistake he made last year, when players such as Paul Medhurst and Tarkyn Lockyer did not have enough AFL games under their belt and simply could not be risked in the finals.

Medhurst and Lockyer were among several experienced Collingwood players who retired at the end of last season.

"For all the good you try to do, sometimes it backfires on you," Malthouse said.

"We can't make those mistakes of last year."

Alan Didak (calf) has been out of action since round 14 and Malthouse said he would probably not return for next week's clash against Gold Coast.

On any other day, Malthouse's talk about mistakes last year and Didak's injury might have been reasonably prominent news items.

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