Jordan De Goey and Nathan Kreuger are among the inclusions for Collingwood. (Photos: Collingwood FC)

It’s one the biggest days on the home and away calendar and a game both clubs want to win but with a few injuries to key personnel down at Collingwood, who’ll be the ones to step up and fill the gaps to ensure another ANZAC day victory?

The biggest issue for Collingwood going into the game on Tuesday will be the backline and the ruck. Sam Draper and Andrew Phillips did an exceptional job on Brodie Grundy last week, nullifying Grundy’s around the ground. The pair combined for 39 hit outs and five goals with the player not in the ruck, resting up forward to be another tall target.

A combination that Magpies coach Craig McRae praised in his weekly press conference, saying that it’s the best ruck duo in the AFL, with the Pies having a lot of respect for the Bombers’ young ruckman Sam Draper. 

“[Sam] Draper’s marking the ball, and so is [Andrew] Phillips, forward of the ball and we really respect Draper as a player,” McRae said. 

“He’s an enormous talent and we have to be on our game”

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Billy Frampton did a reasonable job up against one of the in-form ruckmen in the competition in Rowan Marshall last week, but with a tag team approach that the Bombers have matched with the Magpies’ issues down back at the present moment, they will look to bring a dual approach in the middle.

The Magpies will bring in Nathan Kreuger for his first game of 2023, after sustaining a shoulder injury in the preseason, with McRae giving the former Cat the green light to come in for his first ANZAC day clash.

“Nathan Kreuger will come in and play some minutes and we’ll see what comes of that,” McRae said. 

“Nathan had a bout of gastro three days ago now but we were very keen to keep him away from the group. So he did training down at Gosch’s paddock, he did a full session and is right to go.” 

Whilst in the middle, it’s a straight swap for Taylor Adams who’ll miss due to suspension for Jordan De Goey who has recovered from a bout of gastro that saw him miss last week’s clash against the Saints. 

With De Goey having the ability to go forward line, to be that strong marking target that the Magpies will lack when Kreuger is in the ruck and McStay out, McRae has the ace up their sleeve to move the likes of Nick Daicos into the middle.

The 20-year-old has been strong across half-back again this season and has spent time at centre bounces in 2023, with a centre bounce attendance of 13 per cent. Much like his brother Josh, Nick has the ability to get out of congestion with ease and has the speed to burst out of stoppage.

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Can the Bombers exploit the Magpies’ lack of height in defence?

Down in defence will be the big question mark, with no Nathan Murphy and Jeremy Howe as well as Frampton possibly spending most of the time in the ruck, the only tall key defender down back that Collingwood have is captain Darcy Moore.

When it comes to forwards, the Bombers have Sam Weideman coming back into the line-up, as well as Draper who’ll float up forward when not in the ruck so there is the opportunity for the Bombers to exploit the Magpies’ lack of height, with Collingwood bringing in Trey Ruscoe who stands at 193cm.

The more likely outcome would be that Frampton will follow Draper up forward but it’s still a chance for the Bombers to exploit the height advantage if they can allow the likes of Draper, Phillips and Weideman to take the ball at its highest point.

With some of the most dangerous players in the Bombers’ forward line being their small to medium forwards like Jake Stringer who can be dangerous once the ball hits the deck, so if their talls don’t mark it, it’ll be up to the likes of Brayden Maynard and Isaac Quaynor the make sure that the smalls don’t mop up the crumbs and kick the goal.

It’s set up to be an all-time classic with it being the first time in a few years both teams are currently sitting in the top four. Despite both sides having some personnel out, it’ll be up to the players coming in as well as the team collectively to step up and play their roles.

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