COLLINGWOOD won’t be trying to replicate the game-styles of the past two premiers, Richmond and Western Bulldogs, with coach Nathan Buckley insisting the Magpies will write their own story next season rather than copy other sides.
Speaking at the club’s annual members’ forum at the Holden Centre tonight, Buckley insisted the club was confident it had the players, coaching staff and strategies to end their four-year finals drought — by doing it their own way.
He confirmed speculation Darcy Moore would play in defence next year, and said he expected Brodie Grundy and Mason Cox to work in tandem in the ruck on a much more regular basis, saying the club had fought off many rivals to contract Cox for the next three seasons.
“(Next year) we will be focusing really strongly on us, there has been plenty of communication around what Richmond have done and what the Bulldogs have done, and yes, they are the past couple of premiers,” Buckley said.
“We won’t be replicating their successes, we will be focusing on the way we go about it. We will be focusing on our strengths and our people.”
“Our story will be ours, and our future will be ours, not anyway else’s. So if anyone wants to tell you we are copying Richmond or we are trying to copy the Western Bulldogs, that won’t be happening.
“We have great strengths as an organisation, we have great strengths in our playing group, our coaching group and our staff, and we plan to maximise that.”
When questioned if the club had the necessary “mongrel” to be a successful team, Buckley suggested Jordan De Goey and Brayden Maynard would show plenty of it next season.
Buckley is confident star forward Jamie Elliott, who underwent ankle surgery last month, would be right for Round 1.
“’Billy’ (Elliott) played with some badly damaged ankles through last year, following his back injuries last year,” he said. “He was at 60 to 70 per cent towards end of year but was keen to play. He handles the rehab process well and we’re really confident he’ll able to be weight bearing by January.”
The club’s preseason training program – under newly-appointed strength and conditioning coach Kevin White – had taken on a much more football-based structure.
“It’s all been football-related, be it running, or performing skills under fatigue,” Magpie captain Scott Pendlebury said. “The players are driving each other, and are ‘all in’.”
Asked whether Collingwood would chase the game’s hottest free-agent next year, Gold Coast’s Tom Lynch, new list manager Ned Guy said the club would never make any apologies for trying to build its next premiership list.
Our three captains are on the mic:
We're talking pre-seasons of all kinds: @afl, @collingwoodfcw + @magpies_netball #CFCMemberForum pic.twitter.com/UyNF5ax3da
— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) December 5, 2017
President Eddie McGuire said fan engagement would be a priority for Collingwood next year and beyond, insisting members and supporters would be at the forefront.
“We have recognised a greater focus for our members and fans … We will deliver increased value, improved communications and greater access to the club than ever before,” he said.
Both McGuire and interim chief executive Peter Murphy said the importance of the club’s AFLW and netball teams had led to a more inclusive Collingwood, but had also resulted in a significant cultural change within the club.
But McGuire also stressed that the club’s No.1 priority would always remain chasing its next AFL premiership.