NORTH Melbourne great Wayne Carey says Collingwood can't win the flag this year unless Travis Cloke puts an end to the uncertainty over his playing future and re-signs with the Magpies.
Carey, who led the Kangaroos to premierships in 1996 and '99, says it's a good sign for the Magpies that they can win seven of their first nine matches with Cloke not in dominant form.
Coach Nathan Buckley admitted earlier this week that Cloke, who has kicked 19 goals in nine rounds following a 69-goal effort in 2011, is below his best. ''I have no doubt this contract talk is affecting his form,'' Carey told Triple M radio yesterday.
''For them to win a flag, he has to be playing really, really well. I think he has to get it out of the road and sign up.''
Carey was also critical of the body language of Melbourne's Colin Sylvia, who was shown on TV joking with Sydney onballer Josh Kennedy at the SCG moments after the final siren sounded in last week's 101-point loss for the Demons against the Swans.
Sylvia was dropped for Sunday's clash with Carlton at the MCG. ''When you actually get beaten like that, I would have grabbed him by the scruff of the neck after the game and said 'pull your head in','' Carey said.
''That's when you need leaders to do that sort of stuff.''
Carey said although he was handed the captaincy at North Melbourne in his early 20s, he had plenty of senior players around him including Matthew Larkin and Peter German, and later others such as Glenn Archer and Anthony Stevens, who played important leadership roles.
''They [Melbourne's young co-captains Jack Grimes and Jack Trengove] are not getting that support from the other players like the Daveys [Aaron Davey] and the Moloneys [Brent Moloney],'' Carey said.
''They don't have that support and maybe it stunts their leadership.''