MAGPIES CELEBRATE MCRAE DAY
Collingwood’s 12 months of chaos and instability has ended with the popular choice of Craig McRae as its new AFL coach.
The Magpies yesterday announced three-time Brisbane Lions premiership player McRae’s appointment on a three-year deal, replacing favourite son Nathan Buckley.
McRae becomes just the club’s third full-time coach this century, after Mick Malthouse (2000-11) and Buckley (2012-21).
Robert Harvey acted as Magpies caretaker coach after Buckley’s exit in June, but the St Kilda champion has agreed to end his 10-year association with the club.
Former Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson has also stepped down as an assistant.
McRae served as Hawthorn’s forwards coach this year, but previously worked as Collingwood’s academy head between 2011 and 2015.
The 47-year-old’s most notable coaching achievements came at Richmond, leading the Tigers to the 2019 VFL premiership as well as working as an assistant with the AFL side for five years.
McRae is now the fifth member of the Lions’ premiership era to become a senior coach, after Chris Scott, Brad Scott, Michael Voss and Justin Leppitsch.
He has also played, or coached, under some of the greatest leaders in AFL history — Leigh Matthews (Brisbane), Malthouse (Collingwood), Damien Hardwick (Richmond) and Alastair Clarkson (Hawthorn).
‘‘I have been fortunate to witness up close and share in some very successful programs and I know that teaching solid habits can build a winning habit of its own,’’ McRae said.
His appointment is welcome news for Collingwood after a tumultuous period, which started during last year’s trade period.
In a dramatic fire sale, the Magpies traded out key players Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson and Tom Phillips in a bid to relieve salary-cap pressure.
Long-serving Collingwood president Eddie McGuire resigned in February after his bungled handling of the club’s ‘‘Do Better’’ report into racism.
Despite making the semi-finals last year, the Magpies stumbled to a 2-9 start this season with Buckley exiting after the round 13 upset win of premiership favourite Melbourne.
As well as the struggles on the field, new Collingwood president Mark Korda has had to contend with the threat of board challenges and member-led emergency general meetings.
But McRae’s long journey to become a senior coach, combined with a strong debut press conference, have Magpies supporters more optimistic about the future.
Captain Scott Pendlebury has committed to playing out his career at Collingwood, while star of the future Nick Daicos has confirmed he wants to be drafted to the club as a father-son pick.
Korda said the club had moved the annual general meeting forward from February to December to deal with disgruntled challengers.
Former AFL legal adviser, and close friend of McGuire, Jeff Browne has made no secret of his desire to roll Korda as Collingwood’s president.
However, McRae said he had no doubts about taking on the role after one of the most trying periods in the Magpies’ history — and after a 17th-place finish this year.
‘‘I’m pretty pumped, this is a significant part in my journey — and it’s been a long one,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re in the position of just getting as good as we can as quick as we can — we don’t want to put a ceiling on that.
‘‘I spoke to the playing group before and my appointment offers opportunity and possibility.’’