Collingwood coach called out over lack of 'sportsmanship' in AFL press conference

Craig McRae failed to mention the opposition as the Magpies fell into an 0-3 hole.

Craig McRae has been taken to task for failing to mention St Kilda or commend the Saints after Collingwood's loss last Thursday night. The Magpies slumped to 0-3 for the first time since 1999 after going down by 15 points to St Kilda.

Serious questions are being asked of some of Collingwood's biggest stars, and a number of veteran players are really struggling. But it's not just the players who have found themselves in the gun.

Craig McRae, pictured here after Collingwood's loss to St Kilda.
Craig McRae didn't mention St Kilda once after Collingwood's loss. Image: AFL/Getty

Veteran journalist Caroline Wilson has highlighted the fact that McRae paid no praise to St Kilda after the match, and only focused on what went wrong for his side. “Craig McRae’s media performance after Collingwood’s loss on Thursday night reflected a ‘me, me, me’ mentality that has permeated that football club as it continues to celebrate that brilliant premiership," Wilson said on 'Footy Classified' on Monday night.

“McRae, who’s always been so impressive publicly, achieved something you don’t often witness from a losing coach. I’m not sure I can remember the last time I sore a losing coach speak for more than 12 minutes and not pay one word of credit to the opposition.

“In fact, if there hadn’t been questions about (Jack) Higgins’ goal and the lead-up of the two teams going into the game, you would have been forgiven for thinking Collingwood was playing itself. Perhaps there’s something in that. For the record, St Kilda won the game and perhaps applied some pressure that led to those Collingwood mistakes. There’s self reflection and there’s sportsmanship.”

Should Craig McRae have mentioned St Kilda more?

But fellow panellist Craig Hutchison said Wilson’s take was "harsh", pointing out that “the questions he was asked were all about their performance." But Kane Cornes agreed with Wilson, saying: “He definitely should have paid tribute to the opposition. But we criticise coaches when they blame the players. He’s gone ‘the blame’s on me, what can I do better’.”

Wilson added: “There are ways you can interrupt and say, ‘Full credit to St Kilda, they did this’'. There’s a malaise at Collingwood he’s somehow caught wind of.

“It was great and it was honest. But at one point you had to say full credit to St Kilda - what they did or the pressure they applied or something. Believe me. I watched the whole 12 minutes. Not one mention (of St Kilda).”

Craig McRae speaks to Collingwood players during their loss to St Kilda.
Collingwood are 0-3 after losing to St Kilda. (AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Craig McRae concerned as Collingwood get 'fundamentals' wrong

In the press conference, McRae declared that some of Collingwood's biggest stars aren't doing the basics properly. "You can see fundamental skills that are just sloppy, rusty, clunky," he said. "There are a lot of fundamental errors that we're making, from experienced players, that you wouldn't expect.

"We have some of our best players, and some of the most decorated players you've seen in the game, are somewhat ... we're all in this. It's time to get busy, isn't it."


McRae was asked about the fact Geelong started the 2023 season 0-3 after winning the flag the year before. The Cats went on to miss the finals, but McRae isn't concerned.

"That's their story, they had their own story to tell, and ours will be different," he said. "The reality of the competition is you have to get moving. We can't live in this space that 'we showed a bit more tonight and that will be enough'."

with AAP