May 9, 2019 by admin
DEFIANT Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley refuses to spend this week defending his team’s recent form in the face of ”condescension” from the media, and will instead set out to prove the doubters wrong by upstaging Hawthorn in Friday night’s qualifying final.
It was Buckley himself who fuelled talk of the Pies going into the MCG blockbuster as significant underdogs, saying after his team’s final-round win against Essendon that this weekend’s challenge against the Hawks was looming as a David-versus-Goliath battle.
But the extent to which Collingwood has been questioned has not been lost on Buckley, either.
”We are very bullish about our prospects, unlike the wider community, so we are looking forward to it,” Buckley said. ”Quite frankly, there’s a bit of condescension going on around Collingwood, around our players, around our coaches, around our club in general. We don’t mind being in that position.
”There are a lot of questions about our form, and rightly there should be, about our personnel, about our game plan, about the way we play. ”We can talk until we are blue in the face about it, but it matters little. All that matters is what we do on Friday night.”
Buckley was also quick to shoot down suggestions that Dale Thomas was carrying an injury – raised after he did not train with the main group yesterday – with the coach declaring his midfield star would definitely play against the Hawks.
The Pies are $3.60 to beat Hawthorn ($1.30).
The fact Chris Dawes was dropped last round and that fellow forward Travis Cloke has endured conjecture about his contract status all season has only added fuel to the fire for critics.
Captain Nick Maxwell admitted yesterday that some players had been looking forward to the challenge of finals for a long time.
”A lot of our group has been around for three or four years now playing finals, and quite often players who play finals regularly start to expect it and just think that it is going to happen all the time,” he said. ”And I think at times our players have thought that. Even last year, going through different parts of the season, they were sort of looking forward to finals already.
”Once you know you are close to [finals], players start thinking … and we are no different. And, at times, that means you are not focused on what you should be doing right here and now. So our players are definitely ready to go Friday night.”
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