Carlton coach Mick Malthouse has blamed the media for turning Dale Thomas' first game against his old club into a "sideshow", saying the focus on the former Magpie will have little bearing on the result of Friday's blockbuster against Collingwood.
Malthouse said Thomas would not let the occasion shift his focus from executing his individual role in the MCG showdown, although the legendary coach admitted the build-up this week had been unusual for the former Pies star.
Collingwood clashes with old foe Carlton
Rohan Connolly previews round seven of the AFL season, including the Friday night blockbuster between old foes Collingwood and Carlton.
"Only because you blokes (the media) want to make it a different week," Malthouse said.
"Don't take yourself out of this. You're the blokes who have been stalking the gate," he said.
"He wants normality. He knows it's not going to be normality, but he wants to play football."
Thomas' first game against many of his 2010 premiership team-mates has been a running theme this week since the player himself admitted there was "no doubt" he would be taunted by some Collingwood fans after accepting a lucrative four-year deal to join Carlton.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley suggested on Wednesday that Thomas would view the game as a "marquee event" from a personal standpoint, and predicted he would be "keen to do well".
Malthouse acknowledged that supporters from both teams were interested in the issue, but he made it clear he wasn't, insisting he "doesn't get caught up in these things".
"The sideshow will be Dale Thomas. Absolute sideshow," the former Collingwood coach added.
"You guys want to make it an issue and that's your job. No one could deny your role - you can make what you like out of it, build it up," he said.
"But how Dale goes, or how he doesn't go, won't have any bearing on the W or the L.
"For Dale, it will be important to play the game for Carlton and not get tied up in the Collingwood stuff.
Thomas said on Thursday he was happy for the media to build occasion up to be "something that it isn't".
The 2011 All-Australian said he still had "fantastic" friendships with some of his former team-mates at Collingwood, although predicted he would be the "enemy" on Friday night.
"I’ve left there... and you know - I am now the enemy this weekend," Thomas said on radio station Nova 100.
"I’m not sure what sort of reception I’ll get from the boys... hopefully they’ve thought a lot about me and not a lot of the game, but they’re a professional outfit," he said.
"I’m sure they won’t be buying too much into this media hype, either.
"They (the media) like to you know - doom and gloom and ‘everyone hates you’ because you’ve left - when really... your friends are your friends, regardless of what workplace you’re in.
"They (supporters) certainly hold a grudge but I don’t know them, I wouldn’t call many of the supporters my friends."
Former team-mate Tyson Goldsack said he expected a "bit of banter" with Thomas on the field, saying the exciting midfielder usually came up with witty sledges. Goldsack said he would not hesitate to respond.
Carlton trio under injury clouds - Chris Yarran, Andrew Carrazzo and David Ellard - were all training on Thursday, but it is unclear whether they will be selected.