Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury says they’re nothing untoward about Travis Cloke’s exclusion from the AFL club’s leadership group.
He just wasn’t wanted.
As the Magpies set their sights on returning to the finals in 2016, the playing group has opted for a new team of on-field leaders.
Taylor Adams and Brent Macaffer have joined Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom and Nathan Brown in the five-strong leadership group under Pendlebury, with Cloke and Tyson Goldsack making way.
Cloke was the subject of the full tabloid treatment last month, with pictures of him posing naked published in Woman’s Day.
Pendlebury said the photos had nothing to do with his absence from a formal leadership role.
“It’s a player-voted thing … we voted on this a long time before that incident happened,” he said.
“The four (players) and myself were the clear-cut group that the players want to lead.
“What the players wanted, the players got.”
It’s not the first time Cloke has left Collingwood’s leadership group.
The power forward was first voted into a seven-man group in 2012 but was left out in 2013.
He returned in an enormous eight-man team in 2014, surviving a downsizing to five last season.
Pendlebury said the giant 28-year-old – one of the most talked about and criticised players in the league – had a frank assessment of his own shortcomings.
“He’s acknowledged himself he’s got a way to go with his leadership,” Pendlebury said.
“Not having the title doesn’t absolve him of his responsibilities.
“He’s had a great pre-season and we still expect high standards from Trav even though he’s not formally part of the group.”
Goldsack, a teammate of Pendlebury dating back to their under-18 club Gippsland Power, has inspired younger Magpies with his effort to recover from a second knee reconstruction.
Pendlebury said Adams, 22, had a “coming out party” last year with his form and was seen as a key link between younger and older groups of players.
The third-year skipper praised his two new lieutenants.
“It’s a credit to both boys with the role they’ve had at the football club for the last couple of years,” Pendlebury said.
“Off-field, they set really good standards.
“Caff is coming off two knee reconstructions … it’s great testament to his character that he just didn’t go into rehab and felt isolated – he spread his wings amongst the whole group.”
Goldsack, another former Gippsland boy, faces a race against time to be fit for the season with lingering knee troubles from 2015.