Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says it’s unfortunate that Lin Jong’s tour of Collingwood’s training base has been aired publicly but he wasn’t the first and won’t be the last contracted AFL player to visit a rival club mid-season.
And Buckley would do it again.
The Magpies were caught out in their efforts to lure Jong, 23, from the Western Bulldogs after a visit last week was reported by News Corp.
The emerging midfielder is out of contract at year’s end.
Jong put the interest aside to perform strongly for the Bulldogs in their stirring four-point win over Sydney on Saturday.
But Buckley – who played tour guide and met with Jong during his covert visit – was left red-faced when the brash play became public this week.
He suggested he’d be furious if he’d learned of one of his players checking out Whitten Oval with Luke Beveridge.
“If I was in Bevo’s shoes you definitely wouldn’t be happy,” he said.
It’s for that reason that Buckley reached out to Beveridge, leaving a message on his phone.
Buckley was adamant he hadn’t broken any code between AFL coaches, insisting this was common practice.
What was unusual is that it was reported.
To the Collingwood coach, these are unsightly but necessary parts of the job.
“(In) the back half of the year managers and players alike are shoring up their futures,” he said.
“We’re not going to leave any stone unturned speaking to those managers in particular to improve our list and to find out what’s on the market.
“Most conversations don’t go anywhere but every now and then they do. Very rarely do you know about them.
“It’s happened consistently and I’m sure it’s happened with the shoe on the other foot.
“It’s dog eat dog.
“There still are morals and laws that are expected and accepted. We like to believe we follow those.”
Buckley and Melbourne coach Paul Roos agreed this should not be the start of an NRL-style system where players declare their next move while still playing for their soon to be ex-club.
“What I would have a problem with, having lived in Sydney, is the NRL system,” Roos said.
“It just doesn’t work. And that’s the other extreme.
“What we’re talking about I guess with Lin Jong is somewhere in the middle and we’re all going to have different views on that.”
AFL Players Association boss Paul Marsh disagreed on that point, saying views needed to “mature” and footballers were professional enough to get on with the job.
He paused before considering whether he’d do the same again, deciding to act on advice from Magpies list manager Derek Hine.
“Good question,” he said.
“Derek is our list manager. He’s in constant contact with managers and if he felt it was an appropriate step and I was asked to come along, I would.”