Melbourne coach backs players’ integrity
Melbourne coach Mark Neeld has firmly backed his players’ integrity in the wake of tanking allegations.
Former Demons midfielder Brock McLean claims the club was set on losing matches to gain high draft picks the following season when he played there several years ago.
McLean, now with Carlton, has been interviewed by the AFL over his claims.
He said, while the style of play was referred to as “experimenting” rather than tanking, he walked away from the club because of their apparent desire to coach for draft selections instead of wins.
Neeld, who took over from Dean Bailey as senior coach late last year, said the tanking talk had not affected his players, who always aimed at winning.
“All my dealings with the Melbourne footy club and the players have been of really high integrity,” Neeld said on Thursday.
“I take offence if anyone has said that any footballer has taken the field and not tried.”
Neeld said he had not discussed the latest allegations with the players.
“The way that our players have trained and gone about their business this year has been really professional,” he said.
“(They are)a really young group, inexperienced and they are learning to play footy in a particular way, they’re learning to conduct themselves as AFL players and they’re doing a really good job.
“Our club’s had a few issues this year that we’ve had to deal with that have been a little bit unusual and there is a lot of learning (to be done),” he said.
Meanwhile Melbourne, who will face Gold Coast at the MCG on Sunday, are reportedly holding a fund-raising dinner later this month in the hope of possibly securing Collingwood super forward Travis Cloke.
Cloke has still not re-signed with Collingwood for 2013 and several clubs have signalled their interest in him, including the Demons.© AAP 2013