Collingwood coach Craig McRae is “really proud” of his side for booking a home preliminary final, and says All-Australian Nick Daicos will be back to strengthen the Magpies even further.
McRae said Daicos likely would have played but “come in a bit short” in a semi-final had the Magpies lost on Thursday night, but instead would be primed for a return as Melbourne prepare for next week without their own star midfielder Angus Brayshaw.
The coach sent his best wishes to Brayshaw as he said he did not think there was any intent to injure him from defender Brayden Maynard.
Watch every match of the 2023 Toyota AFL Finals Series before the Grand Final Live & Ad-Break Free During Play on Kayo Sports. Join now and start streaming instantly >
Collingwood celebrate prelim final spot! | 02:34
Maynard will face a nervous wait ahead of the preliminary final with a big decision looming on whether his contact with Brayshaw as he kicked early in the first quarter was avoidable or not.
“I’ve caught it on a phone, one view of it, one angle, looks like he’s in the air … actually, I’ll go back a step – I hope Angus is OK,” McRae said when asked about the collision.
“I’ve met him a couple of times socially, he’s a ripping guy, and hopefully this is not too bad for him, because he’s had multiple concussions.
“Then the act itself, it didn’t look like it had much malice, but I’ll leave it up to others to decide whether that’s worthy of a suspension or not.”
McRae said Daicos’ inclusion would give the Magpies a huge boost, pointing to the influence defensive inclusions Darcy Moore and Nathan Murphy had on the contest as Melbourne was restricted to only seven goals from 69 inside 50s.
“I think that gives Nick an extra week to train and prepare, he probably would have come in a bit short next week – he probably would’ve played, he’s progressing really well, but now he gets another week of training and load in,” he said.
“Things going well, he should be available. He said it was the worst two hours of his life, watching the game … he’s a great player and every time you can welcome back your best players – we saw what happened tonight when Darcy Moore came back in.”
“Collingwood made us PAY” – Goodwin | 05:15
McRae was not bothered by the stark inside 50 differential, saying the Magpies had done what was required to beat the Demons’ style of play.
“No, not too often (does a team win with such a large gap in forward entries). But this time it doesn’t matter – you can analyse all the stats, but it doesn’t matter, you can just win,” he said.
“No one cares on Grand Final day if you’ve had 37 inside 50s … our efficiency forward of the ball was fantastic, we scored when we went inside 50.”
McRae said Darcy Cameron had battled illness in the lead up to the game and John Noble had been put on standby after he dropped the backline regular “with a heavy heart” on Thursday.