TRAVIS Cloke needs to sign a new contract with Collingwood before his poor form gets worse and starts to work against him at the negotiating table, former goal-kicking champion Matthew Lloyd has warned.
Lloyd says Cloke should forget about the million-dollar offer Fremantle has put to his management and start thinking about whether his current level of performance is worthy of his reported $750,000-$800,000 a season deal at the Pies.
Lloyd, who has a brother working in the recruiting department at Fremantle, has also raised the possibility of a rival club such as the Dockers switching its target from Cloke to his teammate Dayne Beams, who will soon be out of contract.
It comes after a week where Cloke’s contract — one of the biggest stories of the year — has been in the spotlight, beginning with the key forward’s interview on The Footy Show, which drew criticism, and Collingwood president Eddie McGuire vowing to “declare war on the world” and Fremantle if the Dockers lure Cloke west.
“If I’m Travis Cloke . . . I’d be questioning ‘am I actually worth that at the moment?” said Lloyd, a triple Coleman Medallist and columnist for The Age.
“And every week that goes by and every performance like [the one against Fremantle], I would be thinking that [$750,000 a season] is about right,” Lloyd said on Channel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show. I would want to put this to bed and actually sign.
“If Cloke wants more than $750,000 and he puts in poor performances, [Collingwood] would be asking themselves, should we be paying him?
“I think Travis Cloke, for his own sake, [should] sign just to get his own form back, because I reckon it must be affecting him.”
Cloke was subbed out of Saturday’s win against Fremantle at the MCG — a rare event in itself — with just seven disposals and two marks to go with two goals.
Collingwood defender Nathan Brown said the greasy conditions and an eye to keep Cloke fresh for this Friday night’s blockbuster against Carlton would have been factors in the decision.
Although Cloke’s statistical averages in key areas such as marks, goals and disposals are only slightly down on his All-Australian season of 2011, Lloyd argued that “when you go and watch them live, there is no doubt he is not the player he was last year”.
Lloyd said he had not spoken to his brother about any of the Dockers’ contract negotiations, but said Cloke was “exactly what Fremantle are crying out for”.
But the former Essendon great said he believed Fremantle would be better off going after Beams, who would be on significantly less money than Cloke, but is enjoying a break-out season so far this year.
“You would look at Dayne Beams and be thinking he’s on around $300,000 [and] you’d think, ‘offer him $500,000 instead of [offering] Cloke $1.2 million’,” Lloyd said.
“They could tempt a guy like Dayne Beams. That’s what I would be doing if I was a rival club.”
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