Cox loving AFL life at Collingwood

Mason Cox (c) is enjoying life with his AFL teammates at grand finalists Collingwood.
Mason Cox (c) is enjoying life with his AFL teammates at grand finalists Collingwood.

How close did Collingwood star Mason Cox come to leaving the Magpies at the end of last year?

Not as close to leaving as at the last grand final he went to.

The last, and only time, he's been to the grand final was 2014, just months after he and the Magpies had agreed a speculative deal to bring him to Australia.

"I left at three quarter time," he laughed.

"It was the first game I'd been to since moving here. Sydney got smashed by Hawthorn.

"The people I was with, they left. So I was sitting at the grand final by myself and didn't know anyone.

"I thought it was about time to go. I don't know if Meatloaf was performing after but it probably wasn't as great a post party. I ended up going home."

This year, an early departure won't be an option.

Cox will take his place in Collingwood's forward line on Saturday in the 2018 grand final against West Coast as one of the most unlikely stars in the sport.

His three-goal second quarter in last weekend's preliminary final triumph over Richmond was pivotal to ensuring the Magpies' place in the decider.

Collingwood might not have been there at all, if not for showdown talks with coach Nathan Buckley last year.

The 211cm tall Texan said he didn't really contemplate leaving, but others did on his behalf.

"That was for my agent. I said, 'you know what, do your job. I pay you, go do your job'," he said.

"I'm sure he was talking to other people (but) I'm happy where I'm at now.

"The club, showing faith in me to take a guy from the States who's never heard of (AFL) or played it to take a punt as you say, I owed them with another contract."

Buckley's second masterstroke, after convincing Cox to stay, was shoe-horning both Cox and tall Brodie Grundy into the same team by moving his American to full-forward.

"It's funny how that changed," Cox said.

"I called Brodie and told him I was staying.

"We said 'anything's possible' and we backed each other in pretty well to get the job done and take a bit of pride being the big boys out there and having a bit of fun.

"I think he's the best ruckman in the comp at the moment.

"He's a pretty good forward also but I think he's better in the ruck and it lets me play up there."

Australian Associated Press