350 games and 17 seasons into his AFL career, Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury is still setting the ultimate example for his teammates.
While coach Craig McRae used the week to celebrate his captain’s achievement, he also urged his players to keep following the standards he sets.
Speaking to media on Thursday, McRae credited the veteran’s longevity to the consistency he applies in his training and match days.
“He’s so meticulous in his preparation,” the coach said.
“I talked to the group on Monday, and said if we want to do Pendles justice this week – we don’t want to make it about one person or emotion into the game – but if we prepare as well as he does we’ll be well-suited. His preparation is like no one else I’ve seen.”
Appointed into the head coaching role ahead of the 2022 season, McRae was already familiar with Pendlebury, having served as Collingwood’s head of development for five seasons.
But working with him as captain and coach, it’s given him a new perspective on the champion of the game.
“Stepping in here as the senior coach – I’ve seen him from afar in different roles – but his leadership on and off the field is something else,” McRae continued.
“He’s an important part of where we’re going, who we are.”Embed from Getty Images
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Already in the record books as Collingwood’s longest serving player – by a margin of 37 games – Pendlebury has the opportunity to claim even more achievements still.
Pendlebury becomes just the 20th player of all time to reach the 350 milestone, joining the likes of Eddie Betts, Matthew Pavlich and Doug Hawkins.
He’s one of only two Magpies to feature in over 200 wins, and is now just only 13 wins behind club legend Gordon Coventry.
Pendlebury’s extensive honour roll includes the 2010 premiership and Norm Smith Medal, six All-Australian selections, five Copeland Trophies as the club’s best and fairest, three ANZAC Medals, and the AFLCA champion player of the year in 2013.
With a year left to run on his current contract, many believe he could play on to 400 given his fitness and seeming inability to drop off the pace of the game.
Spending early parts of the season at half back before returning more permanently into the midfield, Pendlebury is averaging 22 disposals, four tackles, four marks, three inside 50s and two clearances.
His playing future is certain for the remainder of his contract, McRae said, but he’s not yet ready to look forward beyond it.
“350’s nice, I think we’ll stay in the moment,” the coach said.
“It’s too hard to forecast forward. Obviously he’s got a contract, but we always stay in the moment, particularly this week, and celebrate it for what it is.”
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