Sport AFL Collingwood leave out Marley Williams
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Collingwood leave out Marley Williams

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Collingwood have left convicted defender Marley Williams out of their side for Sunday’s AFL practice game against the Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium.

The move on Friday follows discussions between league and Collingwood officials on Thursday over the immediate playing future of the controversial West Australian recruit.

The 20-year-old will be sentenced in April for the attack on 29-year-old Matthew Robertson outside a West Australian nightclub during the Christmas holidays in 2012.

Robertson received a broken jaw in the incident, and Judge Julie Wager has warned Williams the offence would usually attract an immediate prison term.

Collingwood have been criticised for not suspending Williams, as Carlton did last year when imposing a two-game ban on backman Heath Scotland who pleaded guilty to an assault charge and was given a two-year good behaviour bond.

The AFL also has the option to place a ban on Williams.

Coach Nathan Buckley had been keen to play Williams on Sunday.

However the Magpies have changed their minds and sent the player home to Melbourne before Friday morning’s training session on the Gold Coast.

Collingwood defender and former skipper Nick Maxwell said it had been a stressful week for Williams.

Maxwell said the Magpies wanted to give Williams a break.

“Just to get him away from here, get his head clear,” Maxwell told afl.com.au on Friday.

“The last couple of weeks have been tough for him and long days, so we’re just trying to give him a break from it all.”

Seventh in last year’s club best and fairest, Williams has the full backing of his teammates.

“If he wants to come and have a chat to you he can. If he doesn’t, and wants to keep it to himself, then he does,” Maxwell said.
“All you can do is be there and offer that support.”

Collingwood’s 2010 premiership back pocket Alan Toovey has been selected to play his first game since suffering a season-ending knee injury on Anzac Day last year.

Maxwell described the 114-game veteran as the club’s best one-on-one defender.

Toovey’s return becomes even more crucial for the Magpies following half-back Heath Shaw’s departure to Greater Western Sydney.