Magpies keen for Marvel party against Kangaroos

·2-min read
Jonathan Di Maggio/AAP PHOTOS

If Collingwood have their way, neither the weather nor North Melbourne will get a chance to rain on Steele Sidebottom and Mason Cox's parade.

Decorated veteran Sidebottom will play his 300th AFL game while hard-working American big man Cox will mark his 100th, albeit at the unfamiliar 'home' venue of Marvel Stadium.

In the week in which former Richmond coach Damien Hardwick - who famously once said of Marvel Stadium "we hate it here" - departed, a grinning Craig McRae made a point of sidestepping any criticism of the venue.

"We love Marvel Stadium. We love it. We love it," Collingwood's head coach said.

"I hope the weather's raining outside and we get the benefits of being inside."

Sidebottom will become just the fourth Magpie to tick over 300 games.

"He's going to sit right up there," McRae said.

"He's a great character amongst our group. He's a hard trainer, he's an incredible runner.

"We're incredibly lucky to have him within our group."

But McRae particularly relished Cox's milestone, having initially worked with the US star when head of development at the Magpies.

"I left the club and went somewhere else and watched Mason play his first game on Anzac Day," McRae said.

"I must admit when he took a mark and kicked a goal, there was a tear in my eye knowing what he went through to get on the big stage

"At some time I'll sit back with him and reflect what an incredible journey it's been for him.

"He was miles off. He couldn't kick or handball.

We spent hours and hours together when most people were on holiday ... just teaching him to drop the ball properly."

McRae hailed Cox's resilience and willingness to learn over his 99 games.

"He's got this want to prove people wrong, and if you say he can't do something, watch what he does," he said.

"He grits his teeth, then he gets to work with it.

"He's determined to not just be a gimmick out here, and 100 games is clearly an example that he's no gimmick."

North Melbourne are coming off a heartbreaking three-point loss to Sydney last time out, and McRae was wary of what the Kangaroos could deliver as dynamo Cam Zurhaar returns from a facial fracture.

"We've got to manage their stoppage," he said.

"They're the number one team for stoppage in between the arcs in the competition and by a fair way.

"So that part of their game we've got to manage and they've got experience around there.

"Their pressure was extreme last week and it looks like they're back to that early season fight for every contest."