Damien Hardwick goes public with startling message to rival AFL coaches about Nick Daicos

The Gold Coast Suns very nearly became the latest victims of a huge Collingwood comeback.

Damien Hardwick has urged rival AFL coaches to tag Nick Daicos when playing Collingwood, after the Suns survived another late Magpies comeback to win on Saturday. The Suns won 14.17 (101) to 13.12 (90), with Ben King kicking four goals to overcome some brilliance from Daicos and Jordan de Goey.

Hardwick's side led by 32 points late in the third quarter before Craig McRae's men mounted their latest stunning comeback. Collingwood kicked the next six goals to lead by one point with four minutes to play - two weeks after coming from 54 points down to beat North Melbourne.

But the Suns weren't about to become the defending premiers' latest victims, with Ben Long bombing a goal to put them back in front before Ben Ainsworth added another to seal the win. Speaking in his post-match press conference, Hardwick said the game plan for all coaches when taking on Collingwood should be to put hard tags on Daicos and De Goey.

Damien Hardwick and Nick Daicos.
Damien Hardwick admitted he should have tagged Nick Daicos in the fourth quarter. Image: AFL/Getty

"God, they're incredible aren't they, the way they come back," the Suns coach said about Collingwood. "Hint to other coaches - when the game's like that, tag Daicos, tag de Goey.

"They're incredible the way they work together. We tried, but couldn't get it done. But when we did get headed we responded really well."

Nick Daicos in action for Collingwood against the Suns.
Nick Daicos celebrates a goal for Collingwood against the Suns. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Collingwood looked destined for another final-quarter fairytale when De Goey (21 touches, two goals) brushed a tackle and booted a ripping goal from the pocket. Daicos (32 touches, two goals) then grabbed one of his own from the centre bounce to make it a four-point game, and Nathan Kreuger booted the visitors ahead before the Suns found a response.

Hardwick decided not to tag Daicos until the final term, instead backing his midfield to go toe-to-toe with the Magpies'. It held up, with Noah Anderson (38 touches) everywhere, Sam Flanders (33, one goal) prolific, Touk Miller (31) busy and Matt Rowell his bullish self.

The victory was the Suns' eighth from eight home games this season, and lifted them to ninth on the live ladder - only one win behind the fifth-placed Magpies. Collingwood coach Craig McRae was left puzzled by his side's penchant for leaving themselves too much work to do.

McRae said he was proud of his side's never-say-die attitude, but frustrated that they continue to put themselves in tricky positions. "It's pretty obvious ... you look at the intent, the pressure in the last quarter," he said. Why aren't we delivering that in the second quarter?

"You wrestle with this stuff. Sixty-eight inside 50s is a lot to give up, we'd struggle to win any game. So there's a natural emotion of, 'come on, let's get busy'."

Craig McRae and his Collingwood players, pictured here after their loss to Gold Coast.
Craig McRae and his Collingwood players look on after their loss to Gold Coast. (Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)


The Pies got De Goey and Scott Pendlebury back from injury in positive signs moving forward. Pendlebury had 18 touches and a sweet long-range goal, while Brody Mihocek kicked two majors in his return.

"We've had pieces of our jigsaw puzzle playing different parts," McRae mused. "Have you ever done a jigsaw puzzle? The corners don't go in the middle and we've had a few of those going on. It's good to have a few of our corners back so the other parts can be what they're normally meant to be."

However forward Beau McCreery (calf) was substituted in the third quarter, and Brayden Maynard copped a nasty corked leg. John Noble also missed the final stages to complete a head injury assessment.

with AAP