How Buckley learned to 'normalise' Pies' heartbreak

Ben McKay

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has revealed his club's two-step approach to helping his players manage the greatest disappointment in the game: losing an AFL grand final.

In the aftermath of the defeat, there was a focus on the positives.

And at the start of pre-season, Buckley – a two-time runner-up in his playing days – tried to downplay the significance of the occasion with a regular match review process that replicated their 2018 campaign.

Collingwood were gallant in their five-point loss to West Coast last September, leading with less than two minutes remaining before Dom Sheed's sharpshooter effort gave the Eagles victory.

The last-gasp nature only accentuated the hurt, and Buckley admitted as much when speaking on Friday at a function for A-League club Melbourne Victory.

"On the night I was no good," Buckley said.

"The healing started for me the next day, we got back in and started getting around each other and the team."

The first step was a confidence boost.

Nathan Buckley, who lost two grand finals as a player, has 'normalised' Collingwood's defeat in a bid to help his players bounce back. Pic: Getty

"The boys got together on the Sunday and had exit reviews on the Monday or Tuesday," he said.

"By the time we've got to Tuesday arvo it's only three days, four days post-GF but you're feeling a whole lot better about your year and your prospects going forward if you actually look at the positives.

"We handled the occasion. We weren't overawed. We jumped into the game early.

"There were some key moments that we've reflected on that we didn't execute our plan well enough ... (and) the better team won on the day."

Some players - like captain Scott Pendlebury - took their grand final recoveries into their own hands.

The 2010 Norm Smith medallist told SEN he watched a replay a week after the loss, but that some players hadn't been able to do so in full even until today.

On Friday, Buckley said he started Collingwood's pre-season with a review in the same way they treated every week in 2018.

"We had a look at it when we came back to pre-season in the first week of December," he said.

"We reviewed it the way we reviewed every game that we played last year.

"Coaches had a match committee review. Leaders did a leadership review. Individuals did their tapes.

"We normalised it as much as we possibly could."

The Magpies will resume their search for a premiership under the club's favourite son next month with a round one clash with Geelong.