Cameron Wood
Cameron Wood

Collingwood assistant Rodney Eade has backed maligned ruckman Cameron Wood to step up into Darren Jolly's shoes when he takes on powerful West Coast ruck duo Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui on Saturday night at Subiaco.

Jolly was ruled out of the trip to Perth with soreness on Thursday, elevating Wood to the senior side for just the sixth time this year and his second match since Round 10.

Wood has managed just 47 games in five seasons for the Pies, mainly being used when the Pies' first choice ruckmen have been unavailable or injured.

Despite Wood having to contend with the strength of Cox and athleticism of Naitanui virtually on his own, Eade believes the 25-year-old can elevate himself and do a job.

"It's interesting that two of his better games have come against the Eagles in the past... certainly Cam has had an up and down time but if he brings his A-grade game there's no doubt he can compete well against these guys because he's done it in the past," Eade said.

Wood last took on Naitanui and Cox at the MCG in Round 10 last year, with Jolly again out of the team.

Despite being outpointed in the ruck, Collingwood won the game easily, with Cox and Naitanui held goalless.

Wood will rely on help from Chris Dawes, whose form as a back-up forward and ruckman has been questioned this week along with that of Travis Cloke.

Eade said the external perception was not a reflection of how the club assessed the two big men, despite coach Nathan Buckley admitting during the week that their lack of touch was worrying.

"I think that's external pressure. I don't think Bucks singled them out, he was asked about it and answered honestly," Eade said.

"Obviously their form is not where we want it to be but they do give a contest and you have a look at the week before, Travis kicked three and Dawes probably had his best game and that was against quality opposition (Sydney)."

Eade admitted the trip to Perth was a factor in Jolly not playing this week, while captain Nick Maxwell is expected to miss just the one week with a hip problem.

The big name to return this week for the Pies is Dane Swan, who has served a club-imposed two-match ban and is ready to resume on the cusp of September.

"I haven't spoken to him myself but I think he definitely would have liked to have played in the seconds (last week) with the training he had but he's another good midfielder to have back in particularly on a big ground," Eade said.

"All you can do is look at their work rate and he's definitely trained very well."


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