Two Collingwood players have walked away unscathed from a nasty car accident in Melbourne on the eve of their preliminary final clash against the Sydney Swans.
The Magpies have confirmed both Beau McCreery and Josh Carmichael are alright and will fly to Sydney later on Friday, after the pair were caught in an accident on their way to Melbourne Airport.
Images from Nine News showed damage to two four-wheel-drives and a truck, with both players standing on the Monash Freeway as authorities sorted the situation out.
Collingwood's charter flight to Sydney on Friday morning was delayed, but the team says both players will take their places in preliminary final.
McReery will start for the Magpies, while Carmichael will remain the medical sub.
"The welfare of Beau, Josh and the driver of the other vehicle remains the absolute priority," Collingwood's football manager Graham Wright said in a statement.
"Neither Beau nor Josh sustained any injuries and we will provide them with the support required in this situation."
#BREAKING: Collingwood players Beau McCreery and Josh Carmichael have been involved in a car accident on the way to Melbourne Airport ahead of the club’s preliminary final against Sydney on Saturday.
The club says neither of the players sustained any injuries. #AFL #9News pic.twitter.com/rrZEHFduJd
— 9News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) September 15, 2022
Two right lanes are closed inbound on the Monash Freeway just after Warrigal Road due to a collision. Emergency services have been called. Speed reduced to 40km/h. Consider using Dandenong Road instead. All lanes remain open outbound. #victraffic pic.twitter.com/vesJqHMxWa
— VicTraffic (@VicTraffic) September 15, 2022
Both players were left 'shaken' according to the Herald Sun, with the Magpies set to go ahead with a planned training session later this afternoon.
The daunting challenge of Sydney at their colisseum - the first preliminary final at the SCG since the Swans' pivotal 1996 triumph over Essendon - will not faze these Magpies.
Their stunning rise from last year's doldrums has been underpinned by a streak of narrow wins that has built massive self-belief.
They have defied convention repeatedly, even surprising their coach Craig McRae.
"In your wildest dreams I never thought we'd be in a position to play in a prelim final," the first-year senior coach said this week.
Collingwood have won 13 of their last 15 games and nine of those wins have been by seven points or less.
But their only loss before the finals? Against Sydney in round 22, at the SCG, where Collingwood kicked their lowest score of the season.
"Our best footy is that brand when we're aggressive and we're going at it," McRae said.
"There's parts of that game (in round 22) when they defended really well and didn't allow us to do that.
"We're going to have to find a way through that."
Magpies looking to overcome Sydney home ground advantage
Indeed, this week the Magpies shortened the boundary line at their training ground to mimic the SCG dimensions.
Saturday night's venue is regarded as a "small" oval where the Swans are masters at suffocating the opposition.
"It's got a bit of attention," McRae said of their ground-specific preparations..
"I must admit, we didn't lose to the ground. We lost to the Swans, who played the ground really well.
"I think it's just a subtle little reminder. There's not much to it. I don't think it's a big deal but it's just something we thought may assist (us)."
Still, Collingwood have shown a cast-iron ability over the last 12 months to overcome significant off-field problems - Jordan De Goey twice, board ructions and ongoing racism accusations.
Culture, of course, is the Swans' hallmark. Their origins of their "bloods" philosophy can be traced back to that stirring 1996 preliminary-final win over Essendon.
Just as Collingwood have defied expectations this season, so the Swans have masterfully avoided the boom-or-bust cycle that is the hallmark of AFL clubs socialism.
They, too, have enjoyed a red-hot vein of form in the second half of the season and earned their preliminary-final berth with a masterful upset of reigning premiers Melbourne a fortnight ago.
A feature of that win was Lance Franklin's goalless struggle and now he comes up against Darcy Moore, who is building a strong case to be the player of this finals series.
"Buddy" is not the matchwinner he used to be, but no AFL player loves a big occasion more.
If he somehow gets off the chain, that black-and-white high wire might snap.
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