He played alongside him for two seasons and has coached him for the previous four, making Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley the perfect judge of Scott Pendlebury’s AFL career to date.
The Magpies skipper brought up 200 games in style against the Suns, crafting out 35 quality touches and booting three goals in Collingwood’s 20.12 (132) to 9.9 (63) victory at the Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium on Saturday night.
Jamie Elliott (five goals) and Jesse White (four) also starred for the Pies alongside defender Marley Williams (33 disposals), while key midfielder Steele Sidebottom returned from a thumb injury with 32 touches.
Pendlebury appeared to be sluggish during the opening minutes of the 69-point win, but any doubts of the 27-year-old’s effectiveness were alleviated when the 2010 Premiership winner kicked his first goal in the 3rd minute.
Collingwood’s number 10 set up Travis Varcoe before kicking his second inside the final 20 seconds of an inspired first quarter where he started in the forward line.
Having had the rare pleasure of coaching Pendlebury and also having him as a teammate during the midfielder’s fledging years as an AFL footballer, Buckley says it’s the little things his captain does which make him a complete professional.
“It looks like everything’s been plain sailing for ‘Pendles’, he’s been robust, he backs up every week, but I think what that hides is he’s been challenged, he’s probably been vulnerable, he’s had to reinvent himself,” Buckley said.
“He’s had to face self-doubts; he’s had to push the little man off his shoulder that’s saying ‘maybe not today, maybe I don’t have to do these extras, maybe I can give this one per-center a miss, the ice-bath or the diet or the sleep’, but he’s pushed through those.
“We all have them, but he’s pushed through them. It looks like it comes naturally to him, it looks like it’s easy, but it doesn’t happen that way.”
Collingwood’s midfield depth allowed Buckley to start the five-time All-Australian up front against the Suns, with the move paying off immediately as Pendlebury took four marks, including three inside the forward-50, while raking up 11 disposals during the opening quarter.
Buckley says the versatility of his skipper means he can continue nurture his younger midfield brigade.
“Pendles is damaging wherever he goes. If he’s being sat on we can use him in different places to our advantage,” he said.
“We know if we want to continue to develop a side that can challenge the best sides, we need to develop (19-year-old) Jordan de Goey, his ability to go through the midfield, Jamie Elliott (22), his ability to go through the midfield, Alex Fasolo (22) at times, Jarryd Blair (25), Tim Broomhead (21) we’re looking to develop our youth in the right doses.”
The Magpies currently sit fifth on the ladder with a 5-3 win-loss record and will be full of confidence heading into their round nine clash against North Melbourne next weekend.