Just as North Melbourne must start proving their AFL credentials, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley is talking up Sunday’s clash as a massive test.
The MCG match will be the first time this season that the Magpies have played a team that finished in the top four last year.
Collingwood are in reasonable shape with a 5-3 start, but last year’s finalists Geelong and Richmond have beaten them.
Now they face the Kangaroos, who are smarting after a 73-point belting from unbeaten Fremantle.
The thrashing has fuelled ongoing doubts about North’s credentials.
“We’re expecting a really fiery contest,” Buckley said.
“We’re expecting that North will want to put a stamp on their season as well.
“We’re going to have to perform well against our standards over a full four-quarter game to earn this result against a good opponent.
“It’s a massive test for us – in some areas, it’s going to really test us, in others there are opportunities for us to take advantage of.”
Buckley said the season so far had been a massive learning curve for the Magpies, who are trying to break back into the top eight after last year’s 11th place.
“We need to perform well against the best opposition and we’re still yet to prove that,” he said.
After a spate of early-season injuries, the `Pies are growing in health.
Defender Jack Frost should play after hurting a hamstring in last weekend’s win over Gold Coast, while Alan Toovey (jarred knee) could return.
One player who returned last week was small forward Alex Fasolo, who had five games in the VFL.
Buckley bristled on Wednesday when asked about him, saying that Fasolo had put in a strong performance against the Suns and played a good team game.
“What’s the fascination with `Faz’?,” Buckley said.
“I don’t get it – he’s a Collingwood footballer.
“He has a lot of talent and he’s a young player who’s finding his way.”