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Newman: Finals talk can wait

Chris-NewmanRICHMOND veteran Chris Newman says the Tigers have no right to talk to about finals yet despite moving into the top eight following Monday night's 41-point win over West Coast at Patersons Stadium.

The Tigers rebounded from their worst performance of the season against Essendon with their best, heading into the round 11 bye in seventh place and with a 6-4 record.

They are also set to be bolstered after the break by the return of important midfielders Reece Conca and Brandon Ellis.

Newman said there was a sense of excitement around Punt Road, but the Tigers' challenge now was to play "tough, hard Richmond football" consistently.

"We played a good game on the weekend, but the challenge now is to string those together," he said on Tuesday.

"Good teams play consistent footy, they play their brand of football every week.

"That's what we're striving towards, so we'll be looking forward to picking up where we left off when we come back.

"At this stage we probably don't have any right to talk about finals."

Newman said Monday night's comprehensive win was the Tigers' best performance this season, a victory which came nine days after their dispiriting Dreamtime at the 'G loss.

Particularly impressive was Richmond's spread of goalkickers, with Newman among 10 Tigers to hit the scoreboard.

The 31-year-old praised the midfield, led by captain Trent Cotchin, for giving the Tigers a clearance advantage (45-41) despite West Coast's hit-out dominance (81-27).

"When you go and play West Coast, (Dean) Cox and (Nic) Naitanui, you almost concede the hit-outs," Newman said.

"The midfielders knew that they really had to fight and scrap and try and win that contested footy when it hit the ground.

"To Ivan (Maric) and Ty (Vickery)'s credit, they really fought hard making sure [West Coast] didn't get a lot of clean hit-outs.

"I thought we held up really well."

Forward Jake King played through an ankle issue on Monday night, but was spotted on crutches at recovery on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, Shane Edwards visited hospital upon arriving back in Melbourne wearing an eye patch after a nasty poke in the eye that forced him to be substituted out of the game in the third quarter.

"He looks like a pirate," Newman said.

"It was disappointing for him ... he said he actually couldn't see.

"I spoke to him today and he said he was feeling a lot better, so hopefully it's one of those things, a scratch to the eye, and we can get him back playing some really good football."


Collingwood board, coach back McGuire


The Collingwood board and coach Nathan Buckley have expressed support for president Eddie McGuire, who believes his efforts to make amends with Adam Goodes will see him avoid sanction for comments about the Sydney player.

McGuire, who must undertake mediation with Goodes as part of the AFL's racial and religious vilification policy, will stay on as the club's leader, with Buckley lamenting the president's "bad moment" and the board backing him as a "magnificent president".

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou defended his initial comments on the issue on Wednesday morning, saying he was not fully aware of what had been said.

"Eddie McGuire understands that what he said was unacceptable. It was a comment that, whatever he chooses to say and however he puts it, racially vilified Adam Goodes," said Demetriou, who originally called the comment "un-Eddie-like".

"Eddie McGuire has made a mistake. Eddie McGuire has said things that were unacceptable and Eddie McGuire has apologised. He's apologised I reckon at least a hundred times," Demetriou said.

McGuire apologised again yesterday. "I think I've just about ticked every element of [the AFL's racial and religious vilification mediation process]. That is: shown remorse, squared up with Adam Goodes, which is the key point, and apologised. But I will go through it and do it . . . even to be seen to be doing it," he said on Thursday morning.

Buckley, speaking before he flew to Brisbane for Friday night's game against the Lions, described McGuire's comments as poor but noted that he had apologised unreservedly and taken responsibility for them.

"The bloke's in his 31st year of broadcasting. He's probably spent more time on air and had his head on TV more often then anyone I can remember in that time. He obviously made a mistake. After the thousands and thousands of hours, he's made a blue . . . and he's apologetic for it," Buckley said.

"This is a bigger issue than just Collingwood, it's a bigger issue than just footy, that's why there is so much public interest in it. It affects every person and I don't think it comes down necessarily to just a race issue.

"It's a respect issue. Does Eddie respect indigenous people? Absolutely. He's done so much good work and he's done so much positively to impact on the opportunities of indigenous people as he has for discriminated people in all works of life . . . and I think his record should stand for itself.

"There is no perfect person in this world and one of the other things that happens in this society is that we cut people down. We want to cut down the tall poppies, the people who are prepared to . . . stand up for something and elicit positive change in society as Eddie has done over a long period of time."

Collingwood's board moved to support McGuire, who had said that he would step away from his club, radio and television commitments during the mediation process if it was the best thing to do.

The club's vice-president, Jack Kennedy, said: "While we accept that Eddie made a mistake that caused serious offence to Adam Goodes and many more, we balance this against the work Eddie and the board have done . . . to make Collingwood an institution in football and society that our entire family can be proud of."






Thompson feels pain of Swans star


Canberra Raiders forward Joel Thompson feels for Adam Goodes and says education is the key to ensuring the racist taunt directed towards the Sydney Swans star doesn't happen again.

Thompson works with the indigenous community in the ACT as part of the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre's introduction into leadership program.

Thompson said he was proud of the way Goodes made a stand when he was called an ape by a 13-year-old Collingwood supporter during last Friday's game at the MCG.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire inflamed the situation on Wednesday when he suggested on his radio show that Goodes could be used to promote musical show King Kong.


Thompson felt sympathy for the young girl and said her long-term welfare needed to be considered.

''I really feel for Adam Goodes because people don't have the right to say these things,'' Thompson said. ''It's about education. It's a big lesson for her, hopefully she doesn't get bullied and it doesn't change the course of her life.''

Thompson is doing his part to assist the indigenous community.

He fits youth work in around his commitments with the Raiders, giving teenagers the confidence and skills to find employment and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

Dealing with mental health issues and taking children to the country to learn about their heritage are also important lessons.
Thompson understands the challenges facing indigenous youngsters. He was a self-confessed troublemaker growing up and many of his friends ended up in jail.

It wasn't until he moved in with his grandparents in the NSW country town of Ivanhoe, and turned his focus to rugby league, that he got on the right track.

Thompson doesn't want the next generation to go down his former path and will continue his work with the indigenous community when he joins the St George Illawarra Dragons next year.

He plans to expand the program to year 11 and 12 students and wants to make a difference in high schools around Wollongong.




Docker Morabito edges closer to return

Anthony-MorabitoFREMANTLE midfielder Anthony Morabito is edging closer to a return to football following his third knee reconstruction.

The 2010 AFL Rising Star nominee has not played for Fremantle since the semi-final against Geelong in his debut season, when he played 23 matches.

"He's gearing up to play relatively soon," teammate David Mundy said at a media conference.

"He's joining in training a lot more and feeling more confident in his body, and yeah - he's not too far away, I guess."

Morabito has had a hat-trick of knee reconstructions after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee three times.

Morabito missed all of the 2011 season when he had a traditional reconstruction in December 2010.

He had another hamstring graft reconstruction when he re-injured his knee in July 2012, having played one reserves and seven league matches in the WAFL for Peel Thunder that season.

But Morabito's knee failed him again on January 8 this year when he crumpled during a pre-season training session. He subsequently opted for the LARS surgery.

Morabito has been participating in full training since early May and is edging closer to a return.

"It's obviously been a long road for 'Mora'," Mundy said.

"We want to take a bit of a conservative route with him."

Morabito has drawn inspiration from Sydney Swans premiership player Nick Malceski, who advised Morabito on the benefits of the LARS surgery and put the young Docker in contact with his surgeon.

Mundy said it was pleasing to see the talented 21-year-old moving so well at training.

"To see him around the boys and running around and kicking the footy, it's good," he said.

"Hopefully he can hold together and get back out on the track."


Quest for success drives Montagna

Leigh-MontagnaST KILDA midfielder Leigh Montagna is hopeful he can be part of another successful Saints era and capture the premiership medal he came so close to winning in 2009 and 2010.

Montagna, who will play his 200th game this Sunday against North Melbourne, conceded the 2-7 Saints were in transition this season and that a premiership was "probably further away than it was a few years ago".

However, the 29-year-old said he hoped to play on for up to another four seasons and he was still motivated by the chance of success.

"I've been in footy long enough to know that things can turn around pretty quickly," Montagna said on Tuesday.

"It might take a while, but it might not.

"I've just got to make sure I do all I can to still be involved at the footy club, and I've got a lot of faith in Scott Watters and the direction the club is going.

"If I can hang around and continue to play good footy and be a part of the next generation of successful Saints, that's what I want to be a part of."

Montagna was among the Saints' best performers in 2009 and 2010 when the club played in three Grand Finals, including the 2010 replay.

Both years he was named All Australian and finished top three in the club best and fairest, coming runner-up to Lenny Hayes in 2010.

The classy midfielder, who has maintained his high standards and has since become a more versatile player, said playing 200 games was "very special".

"It's something I'm very excited about," he said.

"We've got a 200-club board there with photos and some past champions, and to be able to join that is something I'm very proud of.

"I'm really enjoying my footy at the moment and still enjoying playing.

"Hopefully I can play for a few more years yet."

Montagna said midfielders Jack Newnes and Seb Ross were two young players he was excited about playing alongside, while half-back Nathan Wright has impressed him with his toughness.

Wright is expected to be available for Sunday's clash against the Kangaroos after missing two matches with a broken jaw.

Hayes, meanwhile, will need to prove his fitness at training later this week after suffering a minor calf injury against the Western Bulldogs last weekend.

"He's probably the first picked to take to war with you," Montagna said of Hayes.

"I'd love to have him out there for my 200th, but we'll have to wait and see."

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