Cloke’s contract not to blame, says Buckley
Travis Cloke is struggling to get a kick but it’s too easy to blame contract talks for putting the star forward off his game, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says.
Buckley did his best to get in the ear of the 2011 AFL All-Australian at training on Tuesday.
The first-year coach says Cloke simply needs to keep working hard and things will turn around for him.
But after contributing four possessions and no goals in last week’s win over Adelaide, for a tally of 19 goals compared to his career-best 69-goal haul of 2011, it’s only natural fans and media commentators are going to link the two issues.
“He probably hasn’t been taking his grabs in the last couple of weeks,” Buckley said of Cloke, who led the league in contested marks in 2011.
“We’ve just set such high standards for players like ‘Trav’, he’s just an easy target at the moment.
“(Adelaide’s) Patrick Dangerfield was in the process of going through contract negotiations as well and he was in great form,” Buckley said of Dangerfield, who has re-signed with the Crows.
“(Collingwood’s) Steele Sidebottom, Sharrod Wellingham and Dayne Beams are in the process of working out their next contracts and they’re playing well.
“It’s an easy connection to make but how much effect it has, I don’t know.”
Buckley said if Cloke’s work-rate was down then he would be concerned, but it’s not.
“I don’t think there’s many footballers who don’t lose a little bit of confidence when you’re not playing the type of footy that you’d like to play,” Buckley told reporters.
“I’ve got no doubt that he’ll break the back of it at some stage. But in the interim, he has been able to influence games when they’ve been on the line over the last four to six weeks.”
Asked about his personal chat with Cloke at training, Buckley added: “I try to spend as much one-on-one time with the players as I can but it was Clokey’s turn.”
The fourth-placed Magpies are hopeful of regaining Nathan Brown (knee) and Chris Tarrant (calf) for Sunday’s round-10 game at the MCG against 17th-placed Gold Coast.
Dane Swan is on schedule to return from a hamstring injury for Collingwood’s round-11 clash with Melbourne on June 11 with All-Australian defender Ben Reid (thigh) expected back on June 23, Buckley added.
However backman Lachie Keeffe has been ruled out for the season following his knee injury against Adelaide.
Andrew Krakouer (knee), Brent Macaffer (knee), Luke Ball (knee) and Ben Johnson (shoulder) have also suffered major injuries although Buckley says Macaffer and Krakouer are still clinging to unlikely hopes of returning this season.
Buckley heaped praise on star midfielder Scott Pendlebury, saying he’s in better form than 2011 when he was club champion despite Swan winning the Brownlow Medal.
“The important thing to acknowledge is that `Pendles’ is probably playing the best footy of his career and it’s up to everyone else to speculate on where that might rank him,” Buckley said.© AAP 2013
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