Dale Thomas is confident of becoming a Blue this week. Photo: Pat Scala Dale Thomas.
Dale Thomas says he has endured a “tough couple of years” at Collingwood but looks forward to reinvigorating his career at Carlton next season.
The Blues lodged paperwork on Monday afternoon to secure the restricted free agent on what is understood to be a four-year contract worth almost $3 million. The Magpies will have three days to match the offer, but Thomas’ shift to the Blues is all but a done deal.
Having battled ankle problems in the past two years, including managing only five senior matches this season and none since round seven, the dashing ball carrier and 2010 premiership star said he was keen to again link with Carlton coach Mick Malthouse, his former Collingwood mentor.
“I’ve obviously had a tough couple of years and when this opportunity arose with the free agency and the like, I thought it was just the right time to move on,” he said at Melbourne Airport on Monday, before flying out for a holiday.
“I’m very excited, (to) get back with Mick obviously, getting to Carlton, a team on the improve, and hopefully I can play some good footy there.”
Thomas said his ankle had been “sweet” for a month, while the Blues are confident it will hold up and allow him to again be a midfield force with the ability to conjure goals.
Thomas, who bypassed the Magpies’ best-and-fairest count last Friday, said he had no ill feelings towards his former club where he played 157 matches.
“No, not at all. Not from my end anyway,” he told Fox Sports.
“If everything had’ve worked out and if the last two years hadn’t have gone the way they did … but these things happen and we move on and as I said, I can’t wait.
“It’s obviously really tough (leaving Collingwood), I’ve got some mates coming on this trip with me from the Pies (but) my friends are still going to be my friends.
“I’ve had a great time at Collingwood, I’m thankful to all the supporters, they’ve been fantastic. I’ve had a great ride but I’m looking forward to this next chapter.”
Thomas said Magpies’ coach Nathan Buckley had accepted his decision.
“I called him up and then obviously went in and had a meeting with him. Bucks has got no hard feelings. I explained my decision to him and he was happy with that,” he said.
“He’s obviously got a fantastic group there at Collingwood and he’s going to steer them in the direction he wants. Hopefully it won’t be too good against Carlton but I wish those boys all the best of luck.”
Thomas, 26, is one of four so-called “rat pack” members to have left, or be leaving, the club in the past year. Ben Johnson retired through the season, Alan Didak has been delisted while Heath Shaw will traded, should a suitable deal be done.
Blues’ football manager Andrew McKay said on Monday it was unclear how long it would take for the Magpies’ to let the deal go through.
Thomas’ defection means the Blues have ultimately secured the top two picks of the 2005 national draft. Skipper Marc Murphy was taken as a priority pick at No.1, with Thomas also a priority at No.2. The Magpies went for Thomas ahead of Scott Pendlebury (No.5) that year.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.