Off-colour Cloke looks to mark milestone
Travis Cloke at Collingwood training today. Pic: Getty Images

He's made a career out of taking strong marks against opponents, but Travis Cloke's key contest at the moment is between his ears.

Cloke and his Collingwood teammates face Richmond at the MCG tomorrow night as both sides seek a second win.

Travis, 27, will join his father David in the 200-game club.

For Travis, who has booted only two goals in the first three rounds, a big performance is overdue.

"I haven't really thought about it. I actually thought it was next week," the dual All-Australian said of his milestone yesterday.

"Life after footy is the time to reflect on milestones."

In a sign of his struggle for form, Cloke has taken only two contested marks this year.

His one-on-one battles with Geelong's Tom Lonergan last week were controversial.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire on Monday used his breakfast radio show on Melbourne station Triple M to question the number of free kicks paid to Cloke.

"There seems to be a whole rule there for Travis Cloke: you can do whatever you like to him, you can run into his back," McGuire said.

"I'm just interested in how Travis Cloke is singled out. Last year if he touched anyone, 'oh, free kick'. This year 'away you go, just jump on top of him. Have your own rules'."

But Cloke says he isn't thinking about the umpires.

"They make mistakes. I make mistakes," Cloke said.

"I've played for 10 years now. I try to do the same things I've been doing for those (199) games - just keep competing.

"Half the time the battle is within my head. Winning that is the greatest challenge of mine."

The bustling Cloke booted 68 goals last season, but has always struggled for consistency.

"If you drop a mark early on, your confidence goes down but you just have to push yourself forward to the next contest and to the next game," Cloke said.

"You want to take one, you want to kick goals, you want to do perfect things. You're not human if you don't get upset with those type of things. Half the time you've got to keep yourself going, push yourself forward. Next contest, next game of footy."

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said the umpires missed only one free kick for Cloke.

"Trav got a little bit stationary and made it easier for Lonergan to defend him," Buckley said.

Brownlow medallist Dane Swan, who is averaging 22 possessions per game compared to 31 in 2013, is another player the Magpies are hoping can find form.

Buckley last week denied Swan was carrying a groin injury and predicted a big game from the triple club champion.

While Swan's 23-disposal performance against Geelong was not quite what Buckley was hoping for, the coach put his champion's form in perspective.

"When you are consistent for so long, it (a quiet game) stands out," Buckley said.

Half the time the battle is within my head. "Travis Cloke

Australian Associated Press

The West Australian

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