Malthouse AFL future remains a mystery - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Malthouse AFL future remains a mystery

Justin Chadwick 27/08/2011 11:32:45 AM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse is refusing to answer questions about his future, fuelling speculation he is set to walk out on the Magpies at the end of the AFL season.

Malthouse, whose ladder-leading 'Pies are on track for a second straight premiership after wrapping up top spot with their 80-point win over Fremantle on Friday night, will hand over the coaching reins to his assistant Nathan Buckley at the end of the year.

The three-times premiership coach is contracted to take up a yet-to-be-defined technical director role after the handover, but speculation is rife he will opt out to prepare for a return to coaching in 2013.

When asked about his future beyond this season after the 20.12 (132) to 8.4 (52) victory over Fremantle, Malthouse replied: "I'm not going to answer anything to do with rumours. I'm here to talk about Collingwood-Fremantle."

The Magpies could be without Dale Thomas for the start of their finals campaign after the star midfielder dished off a late, head-high bump on Fremantle's Garrick Ibbotson.

Thomas has 68.75 carryover points from earlier in the year and will be forced to sweat on the match review panel's assessment of the hit, which didn't seriously injure Ibbotson.

Collingwood were ruthless against the Dockers, opening up a 105-14 lead late in the third quarter before easing off in the final term.

Malthouse said he felt "sorry" for Fremantle's injury plight, which claimed two more casualties on Friday night.

Defender Peter Faulks suffered a suspected broken jaw and fractured cheekbone after copping a knee to the face from ruckman Cameron Wood while running with the flight of the ball, while Ibbotson's left shoulder popped out twice before he was finally subbed out of the game.

Fremantle coach Mark Harvey praised the bravery of 23-year-old Faulks, who was playing just his second AFL game since being snared by the Dockers via last year's trade week.

"I said to the guys after the game, they're the sort of players you want to play with, because they're prepared to put it on the line," Harvey said.

"He's only in his second game.

"To do that, going back with the flight of the ball, means you can rely on those sort of guys."

Malthouse said Luke Ball and Chris Tarrant, who was a late withdrawal against the Dockers due to general soreness, were in line to return against Geelong next week.

But while Collingwood have an embarrassment of riches on the selection front, Fremantle will struggle to field a team.

Defenders Antoni Grover and Alex Silvagni will replace Faulks and Ibbotson, but the Dockers must also find a replacement for midfielder Nick Lower, who is almost certain to be suspended for his reckless head-high bump on Thomas.

Malthouse sympathised with Fremantle's injury plight.

"I really feel for Mark (Harvey)," Malthouse said.

"I'm not bemoaning the fact that we won, but just to see how many good players they had out is astounding, quite frankly."

And although the 'Pies are flying high in top spot, Malthouse said the minor premiership meant little heading into the finals.

"It was pointed out to me not too long ago that in 1973, Collingwood had something similar but Richmond won the premiership," he said.

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