No-one has favouritism this weekend, says Burns
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Collingwood captain Scott Burns knows better than most that in the AFL finals, favouritism is bunk.
Having declared himself 100 per cent fit for tomorrow’s semi-final against St Kilda at the MCG, Burns has also insisted neither side will take an advantage into the clash.
Most notably in 2002 and again last year, the Magpies have shown opportunities beckon in September for a side that is consistently hard at the ball, well-organised and fanatically determined.
Burns and his teammates went within nine points of the `02 premiership and fell only three points short of knocking out eventual premiers Geelong in last year’s preliminary final.
There was a perception they played above themselves to do so well in those two finals series, but the `Pies are a side built for September.
Collingwood dispatched Adelaide last weekend in their elimination final, a day before the Cats belted St Kilda in a qualifying final.
“I don’t think anyone is favourites this weekend, I think we’re all flip of the coin,” Burns said this morning of the two semi-finals.
“Any of the four teams playing this weekend would be confident in themselves.
“If they did everything right to restrict the opposition in what they want to do and certainly, for the majority of the game, get things in place that they want to do offensively, then they’d be pretty confident they would win.
“But look, if you come just that little bit off, you’re in trouble.”
In terms of personnel, Collingwood will be stronger tomorrow with the return of Burns, who has missed a fortnight with a calf muscle injury.
There were rumours earlier today that key forward Travis Cloke might be ill, but he trained lightly and appeared in no distress.
Simon Prestigiacomo could be in doubt after hurting his shoulder against the Crows, with Shane Wakelin the obvious replacement.
Rhyce Shaw was dropped for Burns as the Saints recalled midfield star Luke Ball and David Armitage for Xavier Clarke and Charlie Gardiner.
There is still a question mark over Ball, however, as he tries to recover from a hamstring injury.
While Burns will go into tomorrow’s game knowing he leads an even, solid team, he is also clearly miffed about any talk that Collingwood lack stars.
The Magpies are unimpressed Leon Davis and Cloke missed nomination for the All-Australian team, to be announced next Monday night.
“We’ve always been an even side, probably since Mick (coach Malthouse) has been here, and that’s probably one of our advantages,” Burns said.
“Having said that, we’ve got a few blokes who probably haven’t had the recognition that they deserve so much this year or the year before.
“It’s just a little bit of everything, when you hear or see things – I think we have got stars in our team … maybe because we are a bit dour (as) a team at times.”
Burns acknowledged Davis, who was outstanding again last weekend, might have dropped off in form at times during the season.
But he noted other All-Australian nominees probably did the same.
“Leon had a quiet four or five weeks, but other than that he’s been absolutely outstanding,” Burns said.
“If you look at all the candidates who are in those squads, there are probably players who have had two or three or four weeks down at some stage – but that’s the way it goes.”
In the end, Burns has the same attitude stated on a Magpies bumper sticker a few years ago – we don’t care what the rest of you think.
“We’re just pretty happy to be playing in a Collingwood jumper each week,” he said.© AAP 2013
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