Collingwood: Nick Maxwell
Pies skipper plays down the importance of a club's financial backing, saying that even the less affluent teams can attract top players.PT0M0S 620 349
Outspoken former Swans coach Paul Roos believes contract negotiations with Dale Thomas, and ongoing angst about 2011 Brownlow medallist Dane Swan, could disrupt Collingwood's premiership campaign.
But Magpie coach Nathan Buckley says his players are "looking forward to our footy doing the talking rather than responding to headlines".
And speaking at the AFL captain's day at Etihad stadium on Tuesday, Magpies skipper Nick Maxwell said he "couldn't be happier" with Swan's pre-season, saying he had "never seen him more engaged".
Paul Roos says angst over Dane Swan could cost the Pies their chance at a flag. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
On Monday night, Roos told Fox Footy's On the Couch that the Magpies were "extremely well placed" to win this year's AFL title.
"But if you have players that don't want to conform to your team ethos ... I would suggest there would be some players at the Collingwood Football Club that would be getting sick of Dane Swan."
Star midfielder Thomas, currently battling an ankle injury, is out of contract and becomes a free agent at the end of the season. On Sunday, he said he hoped to stay at Collingwood.
"But never say never, I've got to try to get some money in my pocket, he told Channel Seven's Gameday.
"I'd like to think that I'll give myself a bit of time to get some form up and play some good footy and then start talking contracts. I'm sure the club would like to get my signature at the minute, because it would be worth next to nothing."
Roos found fault with those statements.
"They know they are playing for a big football club – everything they do and say is going to be analysed," Roos said.
"We saw it last year with (Travis) Cloke.
"I was concerned with Thomas the comments he made."
Swan was fined by his club after indulging in an unauthorised interview with The Footy Show in which he denied he had a drug problem. That followed a call from The Age's Caroline Wilson last year for Collingwood to sack the midfield superstar.
On Fox Sports on Monday night, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said Swan had needed some "tough love". McGuire and Swan's manager Liam Pickering clashed heatedly after the Magpies fined Swan.
Buckley defended Swan on Nova radio Monday morning.
"I think we handle Swanny pretty well, he enjoys the environment," he said.
"I thought that he and his management made a poor decision not to notify the footy club. And, it's pretty clear it was not with the club's best interests in mind and Swanny was fined accordingly.
"In the end Dane Swan is training really well at the footy club. We have progressed on what we saw from his pre-season last year.
"Most of the boys are in that situation. We are really looking forward to hitting the season with a full head of steam, Swanny and every player at the footy club is looking forward to our footy doing the talking rather than responding to headlines.
"Wherever (Swan) was last year he is in better shape this year ... and that's all you can ever ask for in a player."
Buckley said Swan had admitted he should have discussed his interview with the club prior to it being arranged.
"I said: 'That's right. Clearly you should have.' And we had a chat about it, and we reached the decision we reached.
"In the end, mutual respect is important in any relationship, in any environment."
Maxwell said Thomas had every right to delay contract negotiations, and players and clubs would get used to such situations in the free agency era.
"It's just the industry we're in now," he told reporters at the annual captain's day media event.
He claimed issues surrounding high-profile players like Swan were inevitably "blown up" out of proportion to their importance or impact on the players' clubs.