Coach says AFL should lift its game
From BERNIE SLATTERY in Melbourne
WEST COAST coach Mick Malthouse believes the new rugby league Super League currently sending shockwaves through Australia's football codes could pose a potential threat to future players moving into the Australian Football League.
Malthouse, speaking after his side's thrilling four-point win over Collingwood at the MCG yesterday, said Australian Rules could not afford to have its potential new talent lost to rugby league.
And in the wake of moves towards a rugby league Super League, Collingwood president Allan McAlister has led the calls for similar changes to the AFL.
McAlister wants five clubs dropped from the 16-team AFL competition to provide 'a super league and optimum performances'.
He said on radio before yesterday's match that the axed clubs could join other teams from Victorian regional centres in a resurrected Victorian Football League.
The Magpies chief wouldn't name the five clubs he believed should be culled, claiming only that they should be those struggling financially.
'We should sit and worry about our game,' he said.
'The opposition game [rugby league] is heading all over the place and youngsters will realise that rugby will give them an opportunity to play worldwide.
'It's already bad enough we're losing our six foot-10 players to basketball.' Malthouse said it was vital the AFL maintained pace with rugby league in attracting new players to the code.
'We're only as good as the kids coming through,' he said.
After trailing all day in a classic, crunching MCG encounter yesterday, the Eagles stole a three-point lead in the final two minutes when Jason Ball blasted away from a pack to see the ball trickle across the line for a major.
Collingwood battled back but were denied a last-gasp, snatch-back win when Brad Rowe marked only 25 metres out a split-second after the final siren had sounded. West Coast took the game 11.14 (80) to 11.10 (76).