He’s made a career out of taking strong marks against AFL opponents, but Travis Cloke’s key contest at the moment is between his ears.
Cloke and his Collingwood teammates face Richmond at the MCG on Friday night as both sides seek a second win in the first four rounds.
Travis, 27, will join his father David in the 200-game club.
For Travis, who has booted two goals in the first three rounds and has won one of 21 one-on-one contests, a big performance is overdue.
“I haven’t really thought about it. I actually thought it was next week,” the two-time All-Australian told a media conference on Wednesday.
“Life after footy is the time to reflect on milestones.”
Cloke, unlike the fans clad in black and white in the stands on Friday night, says he isn’t spending too much time thinking about the umpires either.
“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.”
Longevity hasn’t been a problem for the 196cm Cloke, having missed seven games since the start of 2007.
Getting on the park is one thing. Playing consistently well is another.
After three rounds in 2013, the 108kg power forward had nine goals on the board on his way to a 68-goal, All-Australian season.
This year has been different.
“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.”
Cloke has taken two contested marks, down on his seven in the first three rounds of 2013.
His battles with Geelong’s Tom Lonergan last week were controversial. Was he due more free kicks?
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 quickly resume normal programming.
Buckley last week denied Swan was carrying a groin injury and predicted a big game from the 2008/09/10 club champion.
A 23-disposal performance against Geelong last weekend wasn’t quite was Buckley was hoping for.
Buckley says it’s purely a form issue.
“Pretty much, that’s what it is,” Buckley said.
“When you are consistent for so long, it stands out.”