Buckley backs Magpies' AFL staying power

Coach Nathan Buckley has liked Collingwood's 2019 AFL season to a Melbourne Cup campaign.
Coach Nathan Buckley has liked Collingwood's 2019 AFL season to a Melbourne Cup campaign.

Likening his team to a Melbourne Cup stayer, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley is confident a slow-burn September won't harm the Magpies' AFL premiership tilt.

Saturday's preliminary final against GWS at the MCG will be the Pies' second game in 29 days as a result of the pre-finals bye.

While the extra time off can be a blessing for sore bodies, it can be mentally challenging for players used to the weekly grind.

Star ruckman Brodie Grundy spoke during the week about his preference for the rhythm of the home-and-away season.

And Richmond notably battled in their preliminary-final loss to the Magpies last season while coming off a similar break.

Buckley believes his players are well-placed to navigate the unique challenge after addressing it during the past fortnight.

"The analogy I've used is it's a little bit like a staying race, like the Melbourne Cup," Buckley told reporters on Thursday.

"We think we're a pretty good stayer. We've got out of the blocks and we think we've been able to put ourselves to sleep, in many ways, for long enough.

"We're coming up to the 800m, we're just going to tickle them up a little bit and see if we can get them going.

"And when the whips are cracking, we need to be around the mark."

The Pies were forced to make two changes after losing Jordan De Goey (hamstring) and Levi Greenwood (ACL) in their qualifying final win over Geelong.

Veteran swingman Ben Reid has been named for his first game since round 15, while James Aish replaces Greenwood.

De Goey again trained well on Thursday and remains a chance to play in the grand final if the Magpies qualify.

Collingwood's victory chances were given a huge boost on Thursday night when star Giant Toby Greene failed to overturn his one-match suspension at the AFL appeals board.

It means Greene joins fellow gun Lachie Whitfield (appendicitis) on the sidelines.

Buckley was pleased with how his side handled the week off before defeating the Cats, saying it had provided a blueprint for their preliminary-final preparations.

"We've been able to get through our program, we've enjoyed each other's company, we've got the work in when it's time to get the work done," he said.

"And that includes getting a couple of sweats up and getting some pretty heavy work in late last week.

"The two-week program from round 23 into the first final was good validation for the way that we've handled the last couple of weeks."

Australian Associated Press