Crows to lure Cloke? I doubt it
Travis Cloke marks for Collingwood. Slattery Images.
Could it be true? Could the Crows really be looking at pulling off this year’s trade week coup d’état?
It’s almost inconceivable. I, as an ardent Crows fan, am struggling to even get my head around the articles I’m reading!
So let’s break this down and look into what we know about the possible Tippett-Cloke affair.
Both players have been linked to other clubs all season. Actually, Tippett has been linked to other clubs for years. First it was the Gold Coast in 2010, and more recently the Lions.
Cloke, and by default Collingwood, has been under the constant cloud of contract talks this year.
The 2010 grand final hero has been strongly linked to Fremantle, but other clubs, including arch rival Carlton have also thrown their hats in the ring, looking for a key the strong bodied high marking target they’ve lacked since Brendan Fevola’s alcohol induced exodus.
Both players contract talks have stalled, with Cloke and Collingwood calling off talks until the end of the year. The Crows managed to sign several key personnel but failed to get Tippett’s signature.
And crucially, both players have done an awful job of assuring any one they are content to stay put.
Tippett’s now infamous fan message, in which he rather conflictingly assured fans he would see out his contract with the Crows but also had plans to finish his career back home one day, has done little to assure any one he’s a happy Crow.
Cloke’s bizarre and controversial interview on the Footy Show demonstrated how he is thinking on the issue. He looks set to take the money and run from the Pies, if the offer is right.
Now, if we accept that the pair are going to walk from their respective clubs, as they seem to be hinting, we can possibly make sense of some of the latest developments in the case.
On Thursday, AFL.com announced the Crows have entered the auction room, ready to bid on Cloke.
But why would they do that?
They already have a couple of key forwards. Walker is going great guns, Josh Jenkins is starting to emerge as a great marking target, and Tippett…well, he is Tippett.
Has either already walked, will walk, or the Crows are assuming he will walk.
Tippett leaving the Crows is something fans have had to assume is a possibility for years. In fact, many will be happy to see him go, arguing his impact on the club’s salary cap does not adequately reflect is impact on the scoreboard.
Personally, I think if you have a versatile, tall, talented individual who can take contested marks and is under 26, you don’t trade him. You keep him at all costs.
But perhaps the Crows are working to the assumption that they have nothing left to lose.
The re-signing of Dangerfield and Sloane, as well as some other impressive youngsters including Jarrod Petrenko, would have placed immense pressure on the salary cap, and therefore Tippett’s salary, which is reported to be the highest at the club.
Losing Tippett could mean retaining future stars for longer, and allowing for the growth of several key youngsters.
Should Tippett head home, his immediate replacement as a switch hitting ruck-forward is looming larger and larger in every game he plays. Josh Jenkins impressed with two very strong marks in the goal square against his old club Essendon over the weekend, and could be the perfect replacement.
However, Jenkins doesn’t have the same credentials as Cloke.
Cloke has the marking, the competitive juices, the Premiership Medallion, the hardened and ready AFL body. The one thing he might lack is goal kicking at times but I’ve always argued goal kicking is a skill, and can therefore be taught.
So Cloke would fit in well at West Lakes, but would he cross the border? Especially considering the cashed up Dockers, still smarting from losing Mitch Clarke to Melbourne at the last second, and Carlton, located a trams ride away from his current training base, are both after him?
Well, honestly, I doubt it. Cloke’s salary would surely be beyond the Crows, and considering that is developing as the key factor in his contract negotiations, there’s only one thing the they could use to get him in the hoops: a Premiership.
Adelaide are emerging as a future flag favourite, and a proven big game performer like Cloke is worth his weight in gold come grand final day. And maybe this factor will be enough, but I doubt it.
This is especially the case if Carlton get Mick Malthouse as coach for 2013.