The West

Dennis Cometti: Hird has his Elvis moment

Michael Malthouse is waiting and watching.

We've seen it before and while we might not see it again, the master coach is busy working on his dream combination at Carlton.

Yesterday his Blues easily took care of business against the luckless Demons at the MCG.

Given that a few stars were missing with minor injuries, Malthouse's Carlton blueprint remains a work in progress.

But unrelated to his plans, it's safe to say some of the teams he's plotting against are well behind where they started seven weeks ago.

My prediction for the flag, Hawthorn, have already lost Matt Suckling and Ryan Schoenmakers for the season, along with Cyril Rioli for a large chunk of it.

My other projected grand finalist, West Coast has been hard hit by a string of mid-range injuries that, if nothing else, have already contributed to a sluggish start and three losses at Patersons Stadium.

The Eagles' victories so far total just Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.

I had Geelong breathing down the necks of my top two. Okay, so far so good but even they have lost ground.

I'm a huge Hamish McIntosh fan, the ruckman the Cats recruited from North Melbourne. Maybe though, I was looking through rose coloured glasses.

The oft-injured McIntosh remains injured. The word out of Geelong had been "in two weeks" for several weeks, but last week officially two weeks became "indefinite".

I'm no doctor but I know bad karma when I read it!

And you can add Travis Varcoe and Jared Rivers to that Geelong indefinite list. Rivers, the former Demon added to slot into Matthew Scarlett's defensive post, was a signing I liked.

Then there's Collingwood. The Magpies are also off to a slow and unsettled start.

Dayne Beames, a revelation last season, hasn't been sighted, Captain Nick Maxwell won't be back for several weeks, reliable veteran Ben Johnson remains a spectator while their best lockdown defender, Alan Toovey - like Suckling and Schoenmakers - won't play again until next season.

Former Hawk Clinton Young is also said to be three or four weeks away.

Probably the only good news for Magpie fans is that an underdone Dale Thomas found some form last Friday night after being fast-tracked back into the team two weeks earlier.

By simply standing still Carlton have seen their position improve considerably.

In the next four weeks they'll play St Kilda, Port Adelaide, Brisbane and GWS.

It's a draw that should delight Malthouse.

Once again he'll be rubbing shoulders with the big boys.

The West Australian

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