Magpies' minds back on the AFL job at hand

·2-min read

While a narrow focus is considered crucial in the process-driven AFL world, Craig McRae admits his mind has drifted to the "what ifs" surrounding Collingwood's deep finals run.

His players, too, have dared to dream of completing a fairytale rise from 17th last year to an unlikely premiership in McRae's first season at the helm.

But those thoughts were knocked on the head early this week, with the Magpies needing to beat Sydney in Saturday's cut-throat preliminary final to keep their flag bid alive.

"The further you get into your campaign, your attention gets pulled and you get distracted," McRae told reporters on Thursday.

"I catch myself all the time thinking 'what if' and you start thinking forward and what could be.

"That's just a natural human behaviour. We just talked about getting it (focus) back.

"It's ok to think like that, but let's just come back to what we know, and trust and believe in what we've been doing."

Collingwood comfortably accounted for Fremantle in last week's knockout semi-final, after which Dockers coach Justin Longmuir conceded his side had been overawed in front of more than 90,000 fans.

McRae is confident the Magpies won't fall into the same trap when they head into enemy territory at the SCG in the penultimate week of the season.

"I've had great admiration for what the group's been able to do playing on the big stages and in the big moments," McRae said.

"We haven't played the occasion, we've played the game, which has been really pleasing to date.

"Those experiences, hopefully, will stand us in good stead."

Collingwood have been boosted this week by key defender Darcy Moore's recovery from illness and Jordan De Goey's improving fitness.

The explosive midfielder fought through a shoulder injury to play an important role in the semi-final triumph and shapes as a potential game-breaker against Sydney.

"We're happy with where he's at. He's much better than what he was this time last week," McRae said.

"We've kept him away from little things throughout the week but he's done the full week of work this week, so it will be nice to have him out there."

Moore faces the huge task of limiting Lance Franklin's influence after the Sydney superstar kicked three goals in the Swans' 27-point win over Collingwood last month.

Franklin was blunted by Melbourne's Steven May in the qualifying final, managing just two kicks as he was held goalless for the first time in 21 appearances this season.

"I did see yesterday they (the media) were reporting that he (Franklin) doesn't play two bad games in a row," McRae said.

"He's a star of the game, a legend of the game, and we're just planning for his best."