Few AFL teams will face a tougher test this season than Collingwood on Saturday night at Adelaide Oval.
Not only are the Crows currently the hottest team in the league with a seven-game winning streak, but they are determined to mark Scott Thompson’s 300-game milestone with a win in front of a capacity crowd.
The Magpies were outstanding last week when they upset GWS in Sydney, keeping alive their slim finals hopes.
But coach Nathan Buckley acknowledged Saturday night’s challenge will be on a different level again.
He said outside of top sides Hawthorn and Sydney, Adelaide are now the best team in the AFL.
Buckley added the Crows are hitting the scoreboard hard and have improved their defence as the season has progressed.
“One of their favourite sons is playing (his) 300th game, it’s at their home ground, so this is as big an ask that I reckon the competition is supplying at the moment,” Buckley said.
“We’re really looking forward to going over there and testing ourselves in probably the fiercest of cauldrons.
After a season plagued by injury, Collingwood fielded their strongest team for the year in the win over the Giants.
But on Saturday night they will be without forward Alex Fasolo, who has re-injured his left shoulder.
Fasolo returned last weekend from five games out with the injury and jarred his shoulder late in the match.
Buckley admitted they were left wondering whether they took too much of a risk by playing him.
“It’s touch and go, but we don’t think he’ll come up,” he said.
“And I suppose we go back to asking, did we make the right call putting him out there last week?”
Key forward Travis Cloke trained on Thursday without a glove, after the AFL fined him $1500 for playing with one that had not been approved.
Asked about the issue in his Thursday media conference, Buckley raised laughs by thoughtfully stroking his chin with the same glove that earned Cloke his fine.
“He won’t be wearing it again,” Buckley said.
“He took a few marks out there today without it and he will be taking marks this (Saturday) without it.
“It’s clearly not something we have full control over – we actually spoke this morning to the boys about the bits of equipment they’re in charge of.
“Getting their boots right, we slipped over a little bit last week, and clearly a glove is another part of that.
“We won’t be making that mistake again.”