Collingwood will face another possible season of contract speculation as Dale Thomas comes out of contract at season’s end, and would have a fair few clubs hoping to cash in mounting salary cap pressure at the club.
The Magpies’ 2012 season was riddled with dramas with talks of revolts and whether or not the coach was overtraining the players as the knee injury toll rose. In the middle of that, the president and former coach would have a war of words and contracts.
All the contract and salary cap speculation threatened to derail the season for the Pies, though rookie coach Nathan Buckley managed to handle the media well. Buckley was able to keep himself calm through most dramas he was faced, hardly batting an eyelid.
It wasn’t until the Travis Cloke saga rolled on that the media pressure started to eat away at the coach, and he fed the blood-thirsty media a quote about Travis Cloke that only damaged his brand.
Throughout it all, fans were divided and the Clokes were feeling the wrath of the public. Fans took to Twitter, Facebook and even talkback radio to vent their disdain for the way the contract talks were going.
At Collingwood’s best and fairest night, Cloke declared his desire was always to remain at the club and had always been in contact with the coach. Nowafter the poor handling of the Cloke contract, the Pies have to juggle Dale Thomas.
Thomas was the subject of interest from Greater Western Sydney back in 2011. At the time, Giants coach Kevin Sheedy said he had identified that the premiership star’s marketability and skills were enough to see him as a wanted man by the club.
The Giants were interested in Dane Swan and Scott Pendlebury at the time, both rejecting the chance to move to the new club. Pendlebury’s name was raised again as he was out of contract again this season, even having player agent Ricky Nixon giving the Giants tips suggesting they needed to sign up his family as staff.
Kevin Sheedy and the GWS recruitment staff had already thought of a plan to lure Pendlebury to the club; it wasn’t his mum or his dad but his brother Kris, who is with the Collingwood VFL side.
But without any fuss, Collingwood kept its man and then went about signing the rest of its long list of out of contract stars.
The Magpies now need to redeem themselves and move to end any speculation around Dale Thomas, much like the Hawks hope to do with Franklin as a cashed-up Fremantle attempt to coax him to head back to WA. The focus at Collingwood needs to be back on the club’s season, not contract rumours and media quotes that add fuel to the fire.
With Dale Thomas hoping to stay at Collingwood and Nathan Buckley expecting another media circus surrounding a player’s future at the club, he and the club will need to end this quickly or suffer the same distractions this season.
If not, the Magpies can hope that Franklin’s contract situation dominates the media and they can fly under the radar, signing Thomas at season’s end and keeping him as a one-club man.