De Goey returns for Pies; Hardwick urges Tigers to pay Baker; Rutten about recoil bombers

“I caught up with him on Monday and he seemed to be in a good place, he was ready to come back and tackle whatever was going on.

“He comes back full of energy.”

Jordan De Goey at Collingwood training on Thursday.Credit:Getty Images

De Goey apologized for his “disrespectful” behavior during the Magpies farewell rounds after a vision of him partying was posted on social media.

The 26-year-old also revealed that he had been diagnosed with ADHD and vowed to make changes to ensure he stays out of trouble.

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The apology, issued through the club, came after De Goey clicked the media on his Instagram page for “the relentless pursuit and persecution of athletes”.

McRae discussed the situation with De Goey and on Thursday dismissed reports that the player was unhappy with the way the club handled its latest off-field saga.

“No, not at all,” McRae said. “I met him and his manager and to be honest it was about going past and then being able to step forward.”

De Goey’s contract will expire at the end of the season and McRae will not publicly discuss the midfielder’s long-term future, but has given simple instructions for the remainder of the season.

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“I want him to step in and be himself, to be honest, not just in his football, but also in things outside of football,” said McRae.

“He’s put a lot of work into that and we’ve seen growth, and he clearly has more to do.

“I’m not going to talk about anyone’s contract, not just Jordy’s, but I’m going to talk about what the next 10 weeks look like.

“It’s about just trying to perform at your best, give to the team and be a good teammate.”

Collingwood hopes veteran Howe will miss just one game as they chase a place in the final.

They are seventh on an overcrowded ladder with a 9-5 record, a runner-up win and a 10th lead.

MONKEY

‘Pay the man’: Hardwick wants Tigers to re-contract Baker

Damien Hardwick is confident that Liam Baker will entrust his future to Richmond, despite overtures from his home state.

Baker, 24, is enjoying the best season of his career and is the subject of great interest from West Coast, who host the Tigers in the MCG on Sunday.

Richmond legend Matthew Richardson this week urged his club to redraw the 173-centimeter dynamo as soon as possible. Hardwick – who laughed when he called on list manager Blair Hartley to “pay the man” at his weekly press conference – believes it will happen.

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick wants the club to re-sign Liam Baker as soon as possible.

Tigers coach Damien Hardwick wants the club to re-sign Liam Baker as soon as possible.Credit:AFL Photos

“Look, I am confident,” said the three-time premiership coach on Thursday. “He’s such an important player, both on and off the pitch. He’s a superstar.

“He’s a man we took with us” [to Victoria] as a rookie, he was overlooked in a few checkers, but he was just an excellent player.

“He’s one of those guys – there aren’t many – as soon as you see Liam you start to smile. He’s just one of those people who make you feel good in life.”

The versatile Baker was in excellent form as he recently got more time in midfield, averaging more than 25 disposals per game since the ninth round. He will command a vastly improved contract than the one-year extension he initiated last season.

Speak shortly afterwards Clayton Oliver signed a new seven-year deal with MelbourneHardwick said there is a risk associated with long-term contracts.

But he also praised Oliver’s loyalty to his club in what appeared to be a not-so-subtle clue to the decision the Tigers want Baker to make.

MONKEY

‘We are not the end product’: Rutten about the horror season of Essendon

Nell Geraets

Ben Rutten has defended his position at the helm of Essendon, with the embattled coach saying he understands the backlash and criticism facing him as the club languishes in 16th place with just three wins in a horror season.

Bombers coach Ben Rutten wants to see his team evolve.

Bombers coach Ben Rutten wants to see his team evolve.Credit:Michael Willson/Getty Images

Club great Matthew Lloyd has said Rutten must be under “enormous pressure”, and Sean Wellman leads the club review announced by President Paul Brasher in May which would focus on player development, coaching group training and support, and recruiting and list management.

“At the moment it is too often that we beat ourselves,” he told reporters on Thursday morning.

“I think it’s part of the territory. The game we play is a passionate, emotional football game. It definitely comes with the territory. It is very clear to me what my task is. I know what this group is capable of, you know, and I know I can do it.

“I was driven, I was passionate, I was committed as ever to get us there.”

Rutten said he had had discussions with Brasher, admitting that the team was not perfect and needed regular assessments to support their progress and development, especially within their defence.

“We are not the end product. We are not consistently where we want to be,” said Rutten. “You can feel that we are just as frustrated and disappointed as our supporters and our fans, and we certainly sympathize with them.

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“We are constantly looking at how we can do better with the potential. How can we evolve?

“We don’t have to wait until the end of the season to see where improvement lies. It’s a continuous process. So we will continue to strive to put together the best possible program.”

As the Bombers prepare for their clash against Sydney on Saturday – who is sixth on the ladder – Rutten said the players needed to put more pressure on the pitch, but he saw improvements.

“The difference in games is important. We tend to play games with fewer injuries and there are a lot more opportunities with injuries to create more pressure,” he said.

“I think over the last five or six weeks there has been some improvement in those parts of our game – our approach, our pressure, our contentious ball counts in particular.”

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