McRae wants Ginnivan to play AFL role

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Collingwood coach Craig McRae would love a repeat of Jack Ginnivan's match-winning feats against Essendon but insists he doesn't need the polarising young star to be a hero in Sunday's AFL clash.

Ginnivan announced himself on the big stage with five goals in the old foes' most recent meeting, leading the Magpies to a narrow victory in his 10th senior game.

The 19-year-old pocket rocket was undaunted in front of more than 84,000 fans, delivering an outstanding performance that won him the Anzac Day Medal.

But he has since come under an intense spotlight, becoming an unwitting lightning rod for criticism of players who attempt to draw free kicks for high contact.

Fierce debate around whether Ginnivan has been umpired differently to other players led to the AFL clarifying its rules around such instances this week.

Collingwood defender Isaac Quaynor said the furore had prompted teammates to offer Ginnivan extra moral support ahead of another showdown with Essendon.

McRae simply wants the talented small forward to do his bit in the Magpies' attack at the MCG.

"He's a 19-year-old kid that's coming to terms with playing AFL footy week after week," McRae told reporters this week.

"He's getting a lot of attention at times and I'm here to protect (him) as much as we can around what that looks like.

"(We want to) set him up to play well and play his role.

"We don't need heroics.

"We don't need any players to go outside the system and we're looking for Jack to play his role this week."

Collingwood are riding high on an eight-match winning streak, with six of those victories coming in contests decided by less than two goals.

The hot streak has put the Magpies on the cusp of a surprise top-four berth.

They have been bolstered by the return of vice-captain Taylor Adams (concussion) and defender Quaynor (virus protocols) against an improving Essendon side.

The Bombers won't qualify for the finals but have knocked off four top-eight contenders in the last five weeks and go into the contest unchanged.

"There's no easy games," McRae said.

"It's a really good challenge for us, a really good test, and they're playing a highly aggressive ball movement type of style.

"I've worked with (Bombers assistant coach) Blake Caracella before and I'm sure he's got his fingerprints on their ball movement because it looks really fast and hard to defend against."

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