Collingwood star Dane Swan says rookie coach Nathan Buckley should not be held accountable if the Magpies fail to reach the grand final.
The Magpies face Sydney in a blockbuster preliminary final at ANZ Stadium on Friday night, but Swan said the players would be held responsible if the Swans prevailed.
"Bucks shouldn't be faulted for anything," Swan said.
"If we happen to lose this week I've got no doubt it will be on the players' heads.
"He's handled himself perfectly in the media and he's handled himself just as well internally.
"I think he's been great and there should be no blame on him whatever happens this week."
Swan has admitted previously that him and Buckley did not always see eye to eye when team-mates from 2003 to 2007.
But Swan said Buckley, who took over from Mick Malthouse this year, had made a seamless move into the role despite coming under fire at times throughout the season.
"The transition has been perfect," he said.
"We can't control what external sources write about. We're only worried about what we can focus on internally."
Collingwood, preparing for their fifth preliminary final in six years, are searching for their second premiership in three seasons.
"At the start of the year we set a goal to finish top four and we achieved that. Now we're a win away from achieving our ultimate goal," Swan said.
The 2011 Brownlow medallist missed the Magpies' win over the Swans in Round 20 because of a club-imposed suspension and is unsure who his direct opponent will be in Sydney.
"Their midfield has been amazing this year and it's a challenge I'm really looking forward to," Swan said.
"Whether it's (Jarrad) McVeigh or (Ryan) O'Keefe or (Josh) Kennedy, I suppose I'll have to take one of the bigger bodies in there and see what I can do."
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