Collingwood players weren't sure how they would get through the minute's silence for their late former team-mate John McCarthy ahead of their semi-final clash with West Coast at the MCG on Saturday night.

McCarthy, who played 18 games for the Magpies between 2008-11 before joining Port Adelaide this season, tragically lost his life earlier this week when he fell from a building in Las Vegas.

McCarthy was still close with many Collingwood players up until his untimely death which ensured the past week was a torrid one at the Westpac Centre.

And coach Nathan Buckley revealed after the Magpies' gritty 13-point win over West Coast the mood in the changerooms prior to the match was different than usual.

"It was probably quieter to be honest," Buckley said.

"I think quite a few of our boys were wondering how they were going to get through that last part with the minute's silence and then into the game.

"It's been an up-and-down week for a lot of our boys, clearly they were affected.

"But they were able to find reasons that it was important for them to perform and to give everything and they did."

Buckley admitted he wasn't sure how his players would respond to McCarthy's death against the Eagles but ultimately the team understood they had invested too much time and energy into this season to allow themselves to be adversely affected.

"When you're dealing with the type of quality individuals that we have at the club ... there clearly is a couple of ways it (the impact of McCarthy's death) could go," Buckley said.

"But we understand how much work goes into it, how much investment from a lot of people goes into the opportunity to be a part of this footy club.

"They've lost a mate and we've lost a person who represented the club with pride and distinction for his time when he was here and it was important for us to recognise the contribution of 'J-Mac' (McCarthy)."

The Collingwood coach believed McCarthy's death galvanised the group.

"The main thing we did was support each of our players, each of our coaches, each of our support staff," Buckley said.

"The fact that you're there and going through it together is in some ways a galvanising part of it but it still doesn't change the tragedy that it is and it doesn't mitigate it. It just is."

Collingwood will now face Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Friday night in the second preliminary final for the right to play in the 2012 AFL Grand Final.


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