Swans 'neat freak' Nick Malceski tipped for All Australian honour

Nick Malceski has been known as the man from LARS, a grand-final hero and now as a superstitious "neat freak" whose appreciation for accuracy has him on the verge of collecting his first All Australian jumper.

The man with the deadly left boot seldom misses a target on the field and off it he is equally tidy.

Former teammate and mentor Tadhg Kennelly, who says Malceski should be a "shoo-in" for All Australian honours, describes the defender as an "eccentric", while Rhyce Shaw says his fellow partner in counter-attack for the Swans has a signature way of doing things.

Firstly, Malceski does not like giving interviews, though not because he has received bad press. His media shyness stems from his tiredness of answering the same old questions about his revolutionary LARS knee surgery. As his media ban also coincided with getting a few kicks, he saw no reason to change.

But Malceski's superstitions extend well beyond his personal media policy.

"He's very particular about how he gets treatment, how he prepares his clothes – they're all very neat," Shaw said. "When you borrow something off him he wants it back. He's not weird but he's got his own way of doing stuff. He's very neat."

Take Malceski's garage, for example, which he likens to hardware chain Bunnings.

"In his old house he used to have everything," Shaw said. "He's a gadget man, he loves new things. He just buys stuff. Even if it's a different screwdriver, he'll go get it and hang it up on the wall in perfect position. It's really weird.

"He's a neat freak. You have dinner and he'll do the dishes straight away."

Or his personal grooming. "He gets his hair cut, I reckon, three times a week," Shaw said. "I might be exaggerating but he gets it cut all the time. He gets his beard trimmed. He's not vain at all, he just likes doing it."

And there have also been some "outrageous" haircuts. "He gets away with it because he reckons he's a good-looking rooster," Shaw said.

But it is what Malceski has done with the Sherrin this year that is winning him rave reviews. Among his statistical highlights, Malceski, one of the Swans' chief playmakers, is the leading kick-getter in the league, is first for metres gained with his possessions and equal fourth in the competition for rebound 50s. His hot form has him in strong contention to go one step further this year and gain All Australian selection as a rebounding defender after nominations in 2007, 2010 and last year.

"He's a shoo-in for me this year, he has to be, Kennely said. "He's not a flash-in-the-pan player now. He's proven at a consistent level that he can do it. I think he deserves to get more recognition from the competition as a whole."

Malceski is often marked by opposition forwards, whose brief is not to kick goals but to stop the left-footer from setting up play across Sydney's half-back line.

"He loves getting tagged because it's a feather in his cap," Kennelly said.

Shaw said players needed "to have some balls" to play Malceski's game as it involved a lot of risk taking.

"People say it's easy to run off and not defend but people don't understand you're defending most of the time," Shaw said. "Twenty-five times a game he's getting the ball and taking off, it's really hard to do, especially when you're playing on a forward that's dangerous.

"The risk factor is huge. Mal's one of those guys who is courageous the way he goes about it. The way he's prepared to kick through the middle and take those really dangerous options. When those options come off it really hurts the opposition sides. It comes off more than it doesn't. There's no worries about that whatsoever."

Malceski, who turns 30 in August, is having arguably his career-best season, but Kennelly says it would have come several years ago if not for his knee problems.

"It goes a long way to have confidence in your body to do it," Kennelly said. "That helps. It's taken a lot away from him. This development would have happened a lot lot earlier if not for the knee injuries. It's great to see he's still going around and enjoying his footy. Gee he's playing well."

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop