On the burst: Collingwood's Marley Williams in action last season. Photo: Getty Images
Collingwood plans to bring back Marley Williams for Sunday's game against Gold Coast, while coach Nathan Buckley says that training and playing games provides the defender with ''stability'' in his life as he awaits sentencing from a Western Australian court.
Buckley confirmed that the Magpies intended to play Williams in the practice match against the Suns, having withdrawn him from Saturday's game against Richmond in Wangaratta, which was only two days after the emerging defender was convicted on a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm in Albany, Western Australia. Buckley said Williams had shown ''real remorse'' and that the club wanted to provide structure for him through training and playing while Williams' life was ''in limbo''.
''We made a decision to take Marley out of the squad before the end of proceedings last week. He'd spent three and a half days sitting and hadn't been able to get out on the track,'' Buckley told Fairfax Media. ''So a full week's training is important for him and at this stage, yeah, we intend to give him a run around on Sunday.''
Collingwood's decision has been to ''support'' Williams, the club's statement last week pointing out that the player had already been sanctioned by it for his part in an incident in which a 29-year-old man suffered a broken jaw in December, 2012. Williams, 20, is to be sentenced in April and could be jailed for the GBH charge, which the Williams camp have argued was an act of self-defence.
Buckley said the club felt training and playing gave Williams stability and ''structure'' in his life. ''We support Marley absolutely. We've put the statement out about what we can and cannot say. What we've seen is the development of a young bloke who has shown, you know, real remorse about his part in the incident over there and he's grown as a leader …
''The stability in his life is about training and playing and he's obviously … he's going through a period at the moment that his life circumstances are in limbo. So we want to try and provide that structure for him and support him as much as we possibly can so training and playing is our intent for that.''
The Magpies may also bring back another important running defender, Alan Toovey, who is a chance to play his first game since a knee reconstruction following last year's Anzac Day game. Ben Sinclair, too, will resume in the Gold Coast game with Nick Maxwell (who was rested last week), as the Pies regain important defenders - including the quick and hard-running Williams - from a back line that has been very inexperienced to date in the pre-season.
Buckley said the Magpies rated Williams and Toovey highly, saying of Williams: ''He became an important player last year - top 10 in our B and F … it doesn't happen overnight, he has worked away at it. Ben Sinclair, as we said, he's another player … he was rarely beaten. So I mean, those players that can win the one-on-ones and they've got real speed and real ability to rebound off the back line, get your off your heels, they're clearly important to us.
''Sinclair and Maxwell play this week. Toovey's a possibility of getting some game time this week. We'll make the call later on, later in the week, but he's full training and it's just a matter of getting the all clear from the docs before he gets the green light and that will be a medical decision.''