Magpies wary of emotional overload
It is the greatest intangible in sport. So how emotion affects Collingwood the day after the funeral of much-loved former teammate John McCarthy will be key to whether the Magpies move into the AFL grand final.
Collingwood players attended McCarthy’s funeral in Sorrento on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula on Thursday en masse.
The majority arrived together in a bus, then departed following the two-hour mass for a two-hour bus ride to Melbourne Airport and a flight to Sydney.
There they will face the Swans in a preliminary final on Friday night after four days’ training shoehorned into three, and just a six-day break since winning their semi-final against West Coast.
Such an outpouring of emotion can work one way or the other – and Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley is well aware of that.
“The fact is you can’t assure it (that the players will be able to overcome Thursday’s emotion),” Buckley told Melbourne radio station Sport 927.
“The only thing we’ve got to go on is the players finding the right emotional and mental levels last week (to beat West Coast).
“The challenges of today draw us closer than anything else.
“People have questioned whether it’s the best preparation.
“But I think if you didn’t honour a mate of yours and you weren’t able to go and pay your respects, in many ways you’re undermining the very thing that’s going to give you a chance of winning finals and that’s the bond between mates.”
Several Collingwood players have admitted it could be advantageous to be playing outside Victoria to temporarily set aside their grief since McCarthy’s death in a fall from a Las Vegas building nearly a fortnight ago.
The Magpies also have an excellent record when travelling – and they also have an 11-match winning streak against Sydney.
“I don’t think there’s any secret formula to what we do (travelling) – we just go over there,” Collingwood ruckman Darren Jolly said earlier this week.
“Getting out of Melbourne, whether it makes us a bit closer game day – but our record away from Melbourne’s pretty good.
“The funeral will be an emotional time for the boys, then we get to go away and spend some time with each other, and take it in to Friday.”© AAP 2013