Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley isn’t prepared for a youth movement just yet, citing his determination to not “throw them to the wolves” too early.
The Pies have fallen to a 1-6 record on the season, their worst start to a year since 2005. Coach Nathan Buckley set a sombre tone in his post-match press conference, and admitted his side wasn’t up to standard in this five game skid.
“We’re not there at the moment,” Buckley admitted.
“So that’s five [losses] in a row now and, for the most part, we have been competitive.
Two young guns who have put their hands up from the VFL are Oliver Henry and Reef McInness.
Henry made his debut in round one but was consequently dropped. His VFL form has been spectacular, recording 22 disposals, 13 marks and three goals, three behinds in Collingwood VFL’s three-point victory over the Gold Coast Reserves on Friday night.
Similarly, McInness put his hand up to make his debut for the Pies. The 23rd pick in the 2020 draft was an NGA product for Collingwood, but has had an interrupted pre-season.
His VFL game on the weekend was impressive, enjoying 20 disposals, a goal and 11 tackles in an aggressive display.
Buckley, however, would not put them in line for debuts, and insisted his side was exposing enough youngsters to the AFL already.
“The conversation in there with the leaders was around our young blokes and we’re throwing them to the wolves a little bit and we’re not supporting them as much as we’d like to,” he said.
“Some of them are showing some really good things but we need to give them a little bit more to build off, in terms of our team connection and our synergy as an 18 out on the field for them to be able to learn a little bit better at the moment about what’s expected.
“We’ll continue to try to find the right balance,” Buckley said.
“Too many young guys that aren’t aware, or haven’t had the experience, or the games under their belt, or the ‘k’s’ in their legs to be able to play at the level is not going to be a net positive for us.
“We’re giving exposure to enough of our young boys, it’s just a matter of in what doses.”
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18-year-old Caleb Poulter debuted for the Pies and created some opportunities from his position on the wing. The experience of playing on the likes of Brandon Ellis will be beneficial for for his burgeoning career.
Finlay Macrae was another 2020 draftee who had this third game on Saturday afternoon, but was unable to make much of an impact in his 11 disposals.
A shining light for the Pies was youngster Josh Daicos, who has moved into an inside midfield role over the last two weeks. That role is set to continue for the 22-year-old with Buckley impressed in his ability to win the ball and then use it effectively moving forward.
“We’ve had him in the midfield more through the early stages of the year,” Buckley told The Inner Sanctum.
“His last two weeks he’s played there basically as a legitimate inside mid for pretty much his whole game time.
“There’s [positive] elements – he’s winning the ball really well, he’s using it pretty well, and ‘Daics’ is on the right path.
“There’s elements of his game that he knows he’s going to continue to work on to assist us to get results.
“I think as an individual the last couple weeks have been really positive for him, [he’s] tracking in the right direction.
While a full blown youth movement isn’t on the cards yet for Buckley, his side’s response will be highly critiqued in round eight.
Collingwood will face off with North Melbourne in a battle of the two languishing sides in the competition next week. It’s a must-win game for Buckley’s men as they attempt to avoid a 1-7 start to the 2021 season.