** Language warning in 15th par **
By Ben McKay
MELBOURNE, April 9 AAP – Gun Collingwood forward Travis Cloke says he’s happy wandering further up the ground as he bids to recapture his best form.
Cloke, who has led the Magpies goalkicking charts each year since 2011, played a more advanced role in Collingwood’s round one win.
Against the Lions, the giant forward spent his fair share of time outside the 50m arc, finishing with 17 touches and eight score involvements.
While goalkicking seems unlikely to drop off Cloke’s to-do list, he said he enjoyed his time out of the forward line and its many distractions.
“It gets you away from the engaging one on ones, two-on-ones,” he said.
“Sometimes you don’t see eye to eye with the umpire and it gets a bit frustrating.
“It’s probably a bit more fun up the ground as well, a bit more action, more body on body crushes and it’s where the game is won and lost as well so I enjoy it.”
Cloke said he was acting on coach Nathan Buckley’s orders and he wasn’t wedded to the role.
“It’s going to change every week depending on the opponent,” he said.
“Whatever Bucks comes to me during the week and says, that’s my job.”
Cloke also kicked two goals, both from the goal square, in Collingwood’s 12-point win.
His goalkicking return (39) last season was noticeably down on 2013, when he finished with 66 majors, but Cloke says he’s not concerned by any reports he might be on the slide.
“14 months ago I was an All-Australian player so I don’t think it’s that far away,” he said.
“I’m only 28 … I don’t really care what the media has to say about me.
“I still came sixth in the best and fairest last year so it’s not all in all a shitty year.”
Ahead of the visit of Adelaide on Saturday, Cloke said injured midfielder Steele Sidebottom was “down in the dumps” after his thumb injury.
Set for six weeks on the sidelines, Cloke nominated youngsters Tim Broomhead, Nathan Freeman or Ben Kennedy to take his place.
“We’ve got some pretty good midfield depth, it’s definitely not the area that we’re lacking in but Steele Sidebottom’s pretty hard to replace.”