Buckley backs his key forwards

Andrew Krakouer has performed well for Collingwood’s reserves in the past month. Brains trust: Collingwood’s Rodney Eade with Nathan Buckley and fitness guru David Buttifant.
Nanjing Night Net

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley appears likely to persevere with much maligned key forwards Chris Dawes and Travis Cloke, saying Collingwood’s problems run deeper than its misfiring duo.

“Clokey hasn’t been as effective this year. Dawesy … clearly we’ve been probably missing some of that aerial contest and dominance that they’ve displayed over the last couple of seasons,” Buckley told SEN radio this morning.

“But they’re not the only blokes, we only had 33 inside 50s last week, we’ve got plenty of problems all over the field. Now there’s a lot of focus on those two boys… but there’s plenty of other issues that we need to get right as well.”

Buckley said Collingwood’s structure would not change much, but he would replace underperforming players, if able replacements were available.

Collingwood lacks tall alternatives in attack, the only reasonably in form option being first-year prospect Jackson Paine, who played the last of his five games in round 15, when he recorded two goals from four possessions against Carlton. Potential leading forward option Brent Macaffer, recovering from major knee surgery, was rested from the VFL last week, and appears unlikely to return to senior footy this season.

However, fellow knee injury victim Andrew Krakouer won 27 possessions playing for Collingwood’s beleaguered reserves last week, and Buckley all but named the skilful small forward in the Magpies’ team for this Saturday night’s final round encounter with Essendon.

“He actually covered the ground really well. We know how good his touch is in close. He’s an exciting prospect for us and one we’ll be trying to work into the side.”

Buckley was not hiding from Collingwood’s “poor” form of the past two weeks, but denied that the Magpies hadn’t sought ways to improve their forward line.

“With the recent form and our last two weeks, there’s going to be a lot of questions asked. But up to that point we’d won 15 games and lost four. What we’d been doing, although it hadn’t been perfect, we thought we were building towards – with the structure – our better performances.

“After beating Sydney up there was a fair indication that we were on the right track. Our last two performances have been poor. How much of that is team structure, how much is personnel … there’s plenty of areas we have to look at. We’ve exposed quite a depth of our list this year, so I don’t think we haven’t been looking.”

Buckley said Brownlow medallist Dane Swan’s preparation and application had been “excellent” during his two-week club suspension.

“I don’t think he had a great game on Saturday night and potentially it takes a little bit of time to get your touch back, so we’re definitely looking for a spike in his performance this weekend.”

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Posted by at 21/11/2018
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