Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley is quietly confident Sunday’s stunning second-half comeback against North Melbourne is a sign of things to come for the Pies.
Buckley’s men were outplayed in the first half at the MCG and trailed by 39 points before a blistering attack propelled them back inside the top four with their sixth win of the season.
The coach believes his team is still very much a work in progress but, with 39 fit players to choose from this week, he’s bullish about their prospects.
“Our trajectory is going in the right direction,” Buckley said on Tuesday.
“Without the wins and losses taken into account, which is clearly what you end up being judged on, but looking at the general trend and the sort of footy that you see us play, I see that we’re heading in the right direction.
“What you see on the field week in and week out, we think that’s building. We’re finding out what we’re capable of, but in my view we’re just at the tip of the iceberg.”
After breaking his leg in the pre-season, former Kangaroo onballer Levi Greenwood moves a step closer to making his Collingwood debut when he plays his first VFL game of the season this weekend.
Heralded father-son recruit Darcy Moore also returns in the VFL after a hamstring injury, while Buckley said luckless defender Ben Reid had played his best game of the season in the reserves last weekend as he works toward an AFL return – most likely after the bye.
“You’re very rarely going to have 100 per cent choice on your list but we’re in as good a shape as we’ve been for four years,” Buckley said.
“It’s a positive sign. It’s something that we’ve got right that, if we put the right work in, we can take advantage of.”
The coach admitted that skipper Scott Pendlebury was carrying a niggling injury, but added that most AFL players were at this point of the season.
The Pies have a longer week as they prepare for the traditional Queen’s Birthday clash against Melbourne, with Buckley determined to taper his players’ preparation to have them ready to start strongly against the Demons.
“Melbourne have played some really strong, hard, contested football and I’ve been really impressed with some of their youth coming through,” he said.
“Their best footy’s been pretty good but on the other side they’ve allowed the opposition to score (freely).
“It’s not dissimilar to where we’ve been so we’re not taking anything for granted.”