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Mason Cox is beginning to grow tired of jokes about the goggles he's sporting this season.
The Collingwood forward has undergone five separate eye surgeries after an inavertent poke back in 2018 caused lasting damage to the American's vision.
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He's played four games for the Magpies this season sporting prescription protective goggles, which have frequently been mocked by rival fans, while his form has come under scrutiny.
Despite suggestions from some AFL observers that he should be dropped, Cox was the difference maker in Collingwood's upset win over Carlton.
His late goal, coupled with six marks, 11 disposals and 11 contested possessions went some way towards quieting that criticism, but for now Cox is still more concerned with the future of his eyesight.
Cox thinks there's a particular quirk to the personality of the average footy fan that makes cracks about his eyewear irresistable to pesky rivals.
“It’s a medical thing for me. People can talk about it and say this and that and make fun of it, but at the end of the day, if I get poked in the eye again I’m going to go blind,” Cox told AFL.com.au.
“I don’t want to take that risk. I want to have a normal life once I finish footy.
“I think it’s a bit of Australia, to be honest, they don’t like anything that looks a bit different or doesn’t fit inside the box. Sorry I’m a bit too big to fit inside the box.
“If that means wearing sunnies when I play, there is good reasoning for wearing the sunnies.”
The Magpies go into the AFL mid-season break in 10th on the ladder, sporting a 6-5 record and caught in a logjam in the middle of the ladder alongside the likes of Richmond and the Western Bulldogs.
But impressive wins over high-flying Fremantle and Carlton in their last two outings have boosted the Magpies' expectations.
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Heading into his first season in charge, Collingwood coach McRae admitted he didn't have any idea where the Magpies sat in the competition's pecking order.
The 48-year-old has maintained that position throughout the first half of the campaign, amid mixed results as the new-look coaching staff embedded its game plan.
However the previous two weeks of football have been cause for optimism at Collingwood, and McRae is bullish on the team's chances in the second half of the season.
"We just didn't know where we were at but we're starting to find out that maybe our best is really capable," McRae said.
"In the last couple of weeks we've proven that.
"I said to the players, 'You beat Freo and they beat Melbourne, so we can beat them now'.
"It doesn't work that way, we know, but we've always said from day one that we want to act like winners and we'll have winning habits and behaviours in everything we do.
"That's been the message from day one and we're going to continue to strive to be that team."
Sunday's narrow four-point triumph over traditional rivals Carlton improved the Magpies' season record to 6-5.
There is now only percentage separating them from eighth spot.
Collingwood face Hawthorn and ladder leaders Melbourne before their bye in round 14.
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