Shepparton News



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.’’

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 ?? Picture: AAP ?? Fledgling: Three-time Brisbane Lions premiershi­p-winning player Craig McRae has been appointed Collingwoo­d’s new coach.
Picture: AAP Fledgling: Three-time Brisbane Lions premiershi­p-winning player Craig McRae has been appointed Collingwoo­d’s new coach.

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