Jonathan Brown goes public with eye-opening claim about Collingwood coach Craig McRae

Brown believes teams have began to work out how to play Collingwood.

Brisbane Lions champion Jonathan Brown believes there is a growing sense of frustration at Collingwood as a result of teams largely figuring out the defending premiers' game. The Pies have been a dominant force in the AFL in recent years but results have been a mixed bag in 2024. And Brown believes Collingwood coach Craig McRae is rattled and is becoming increasingly frustrated with his team's overall performance.

Collingwood have won just two of their last five games, leaving them with a record of 8-5-2 and they sit just one win inside the top eight. Last week, the Pies were beaten by 11 points by the Gold Coast Suns, which was a stark contrast to the corresponding fixture last season where they wiped the floor with Gold Coast 120-42.

Pictured left Jonathan Brown and right Craig McRae gives team talk
Jonathan Brown believes teams have began to work out how to play Collingwood. Image: Getty

That flogging swiftly led to their former coach Stuart Dew being axed and saw Damien Hardwick appointed as the new head coach. And Brown says last week's performance against the Suns showed teams that once feared playing the Pies no longer do and believes it has left McRae searching for answers.

“I’m just putting something on the table here, I can sense a sense of frustration from Craig McRae,” Brown said on Fox Footy's On the Couch. “After their performance on Saturday, we know what happened a couple of weeks ago against North Melbourne where they just got over the line, I’m sensing an underlying frustration coming out of Collingwood from the coaching staff, especially Craig McRae.

“He’s got a steeliness about him at the moment, he’s not sort of a jock to the press conferences anymore… they’re just starting to roll the dice too much for me.”


The Pies have trailed at three-quarter-time in 28 of their past 66 games, a figure of over 42 per cent. But before 2024 their ability to close out games was like no other in the league making that figure somewhat mute. However, that has not been the case this season. Along with their struggles to get over the line, in the past six weeks, Collingwood ranked 13th in the competition for points against, 14th for contested possession differential and 16th for inside 50 differential.

“No question about it, you keep rolling the dice, eventually you’re going to get nicked on the line and that’s what Gold Coast did, and they were able to beat them,” Brown said. “I think they’ve got quite a few problems going on.”

Brown says the law of averages was always going to catch up with the Pies and that is what we are seeing now as teams begin to believe that they can weather the late flurry from the black and white. “They’re getting beaten around the contest, their forward connection has been pretty ordinary and their defenders are getting ambushed,” Brown said.

“For me, it’s a really big concern, they lost on the weekend, you start losing these close games, you lose your aura, the teams that come up against you in those last quarters aren’t as worried, because you don’t feel like you’re paralysed as much. The Gold Coast were able to move the ball and you need to attack, we saw Gold Coast, especially in the first two and a half, three quarters, when they took Collingwood on, they got through and they were able to score.”

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 29: Craig McRae, Senior Coach of the Magpies looks on as Collingwood leave the field during the 2024 AFL Round 16 match between the Gold Coast SUNS and the Collingwood Magpies at People First Stadium on June 29, 2024 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
The Pies face an extremely tough run home, facing seven finals contenders in their last eight games.

The Pies face an extremely tough run home, facing seven finals contenders in their last eight games. But McRae remains confident that his side are once again premiership contenders, however, admits they have become their own worst enemy. "Anyone that's watched us in the last couple of years knows we're coming," McRae said after their loss to the Suns.

"We're really proud of that ... but we don't want to be in these positions How many times do you want to put yourself in a position where you're going to have to do this miraculous comeback?"