Collingwood's Shaw welcomes AFL break - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Collingwood's Shaw welcomes AFL break

Greg Buckle 20/09/2011 05:01:21 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood's Heath Shaw admits he would have found it difficult to back up for two finals games in a row after serving a lengthy gambling suspension.

Returning from his eight-week ban for violating the AFL's anti-gambling code, Shaw was brilliant in his side's 20-point win over West Coast in the qualifying final on September 10.

The victory gave the Magpies the opportunity to take a small break mentally and physically before Friday night's preliminary final against Hawthorn.

For Shaw and skipper Nick Maxwell, who is nursing a thumb injury, it has been a crucial opportunity to manage their preparations for the knockout clash.

"I was pretty sore after last week's game so definitely the week off is a good thing," a relieved Shaw said this week.

"On Sunday and Monday morning (after the Eagles game) I felt pretty sore but by Wednesday I was cherry ripe.

"Second-up it would have been difficult to get up (for a second game in two weeks), but I'm definitely looking forward to this week's game against Hawthorn."

Shaw didn't miss a beat with his 30-possession performance off half-back against West Coast.

But the 25-year-old wasn't entirely confident of a good showing in his comeback match after slogging it out on the training track without the benefit of match conditioning.

"I was a bit nervous going into that game on how I would run out the four quarters," Shaw said.

"I got through the game pretty well. It was good to get that one out of the way.

"As a group, especially the backline, we were pretty solid.

"We've been building for four or five weeks to get ourselves right for finals.

"It's a preliminary final so if you can't get yourself up for this, then you're kidding yourself."

Maxwell missed three games with his broken thumb, returning for the qualifying final and slotting in neatly to Collingwood's water-tight back six.

"There was a bit of doubt, even in my own mind, going into last week's (Eagles) game but the week off really helped," Maxwell said.

"I didn't handle the ball at all last week, until Friday, but I'm feeling really good now.

"It's not going to be perfect, but ... I'm where I need to be."

Maxwell says the return of All-Australian duo Ben Reid (groin injury) and wingman Dale Thomas (suspension) on Friday night will be vital to Collingwood's hopes of securing a place in next week's grand final.

"They add a lot to our group," Maxwell enthused.

"'Reidy' down back has been in fantastic form all year and Dale Thomas has probably had his best season to date.

"They are two very important players to our structure and we'll welcome them back with open arms."

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