Pies leaders on notice for ‘fundamental errors’

AFL Rd 2 - St Kilda v Collingwood
Collingwood captain Darcy Moore is among several senior Magpies who are continuing to struggle as the side slumps to a 0-3 start to the season. Picture: Michael Willson / Getty Images

Collingwood coach Craig McRae has put senior premiership Magpies on notice as he lamented basic skill errors which have plagued his side in its 0-3 start to the season.

McRae said he would look at ways to inject more youth and hunger into the Magpies’ 22 as he said it was “fair” for fans to question his use of Finlay Macrae as the sub for the second consecutive week.

He expressed his love for the Pies’ senior leaders but said their issues with basic skill execution were the main reason for the listless start to their premiership defence.

After 12 of the Saints’ 15 goals came directly from Collingwood turnovers, McRae said it was obvious what the side had to address to mend its course.

“12 goals, that’s a big number. You see the ones that we can control, there’s a lot of fundamental errors we’re making, from experienced players, that you wouldn’t expect,” he said.

AFL Rd 2 - St Kilda v Collingwood
Collingwood captain Darcy Moore’s ball use woes continued for a third game with a catastrophic handball turnover which gifted the Saints a goal in the second term. Picture: Michael Willson / Getty Images

“I think you can see the fundamental skills that are just sloppy, rusty, clunky, just giveaway goals.

“The little things that you just take great pride in. Let’s get busy on these things that we’re really good at, because for parts of tonight … whether you want to look through an optimistic lens, it was a lot more like us tonight than it has been for the last two weeks.”

McRae said he had spoken briefly about the skill errors with players after the game but had wanted to leave “a little bit of time to sit in it” following a third consecutive loss.

“A little bit of self-reflection doesn’t hurt anyone, so I let them sit in it a bit longer than what we normally would,” he said.

“The reality, I think everybody out there can see it – is there’s just fundamental that we’re just doing really poorly, and things that are a little bit uncharacteristic to our game but also from experienced players.

St Kilda vs Collingwood
McRae said Billy Frampton ‘played his best game for the footy club’ after being recalled in defence for the 15-point loss to St Kilda. Picture: Michael Klein

“So I addressed that and talked to that … you look at all the numbers and it’s just slightly off here, just a little bit less there.”

McRae praised the hunger and strong marking of inclusion Billy Frampton as he hinted at more changes ahead of next Thursday’s grand final rematch against Brisbane.

He again said he wanted Fin Macrae to find a spot in the Magpies’ 22 after he again started as the sub with Tom Mitchell receiving the nod to return to a midfield role against the Saints.

“Selection will be done at its right place later in the week. But I think in terms of where we want to go and get to, there’s always an opportunity to bring Harvey Harrison and guys into our team, and energy and youthfulness, hunger,” he said.

“Hunger’s a good thing isn’t it, some guys who are less exposed if you like.

“It’s probably fair that there should be some discussions around why (Macrae) is not in our best 22, we’ve just got to find out, don’t we?

“He’s certainly one of those players I’ve alluded to before … we’ve got to get a hungry young lad in there, he’s ready to go, so he’s certainly one we want to consider.”