“We’re thereabouts at the moment”: Buckley remains level-headed before a Giant MCG clash

Nathan Buckley. Image: collingwoodfc.com.au

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley remains positive about his side’s fortunes despite letting a golden opportunity slip last Thursday night.

The Pies lost to the Brisbane Lions by a single point after Zac Bailey kicked the winning goal after the siren.

But Buckley admitted at his Wednesday press conference that he isn’t letting the heartbreaking result sway him too much.

“We did a lot right, but obviously when you lose a game by that margin, the small things that you could have done better are highlighted,” he told reporters.

“I think we weren’t as effective going inside fifty as what we wanted to be, but we actually defended pretty well.”

Instead, Buckley is putting the onus on his midfielders and forward group to improve “that last kick inside fifty”. Now in the midst of a rare nine-day break between games, Collingwood has been able to work on their forward line entries.

It’s a necessity for Buckley’s Pies, who are struggling to follow the league trend of soaring scores. With the likes of Sydney and the Western Bulldogs surprising fans by attacking more often, Buckley agreed his side needs to hit the scoreboard heavily in the coming weeks.

“Clearly there’s sides where the heavy scoring is prevalent, and those sides have found themselves up the top and have performed comparatively well,” Buckley said.

“I think it’s a bit of system and a bit of personnel or individuals on the night,” he said when asked where Collingwood’s attacking problems were occurring.

After falling to a 1-2 record, Buckley has some selection decisions to make. A trio of forwards have struggled in the opening weeks, as Will Hoskin-Elliott, Josh Thomas, and Callum Brown all teeter on the edge of being dropped.

With tall forward Darcy Cameron putting in a strong performance in Collingwood’s VFL practice match against Richmond on Saturday morning, Buckley was pensive before heading into team selection.

“Darcy (Cameron) has been really good,” Buckley said.

“He actually had a really strong pre-season, but Coxy (Mason Cox) pushed himself in front in the last two or three practice matches.”

“But Darcy continues to put his hand up and provides an option for us if we wish to go that way.”

A shining light for Collingwood on Thursday night was the return to form of Brodie Grundy, who dominated against young Brisbane ruckman Tom Fullarton both in the hit outs and at ground level. Looking forward, Buckley hopes his round three performance has quietened some criticisms leveled at the former All-Australian ruckman.

“We believe we have a prototype modern day ruckman in Brodie,” Buckley said.

Is Brodie Grundy back to his dominant best? (Photo – Collingwood Football Club)

“The fact he gets his hand to hit outs is an advantage in some shape or form because it gives us first look at it.”

“He then follows up and gives us an extra half person at ground level – that’s where it’s at.”

Looking forward, Collingwood isn’t getting too ahead of themselves, despite taking on the winless GWS Giants on Saturday night. Returning to their home ground at the MCG, Buckley is taking a grounded outlook against the side who upset the Pies in the 2019 Preliminary Final at the same venue.

“We need to look after our own backyard first and then the other side of the fence can look after themselves,” Buckley said.

“GWS have been a strong side for a long time, so we’re not going to underrate them.”

“The competition is largely against yourself first before you can take on the opposition on the weekend.”

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