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AFL legend Leigh Matthews has thrown his support behind Craig McRae’s bid to become Collingwood’s new coach, labelling his former Brisbane charge as a modern-day leader.
McRae, who Matthews coached during the Lions’ golden era in the early 2000s, has emerged as the favourite to replace the position vacated by Magpies great Nathan Buckley.
Robert Harvey has been Collingwood’s caretaker coach since Buckley departed in June, but McRae is well placed to take on the job full-time after former Adelaide mentor Don Pyke pulled out of the race this week.
Four-time premiership coach Matthews believes McRae, 47, has served a strong apprenticeship and would be an inspired choice to lead Collingwood through their rebuild.
“The school teacher training is good training now for any kind of management type of role,” Matthews told 3AW.
“If you’d asked me when ‘Fly’ (McRae) was in his 20s would Fly be a senior coach one day, I would have said probably not.
“There’s about half a dozen players I could name before that.
“That type of personality seems to be more the type of personality that helps you be a good coach in this era.
“A lot of the things that make you an alpha male champion player are just things that are of no value – they’re almost negatives – when you become a senior coach.
“I think Fly is a coach of the modern era in his general personality.”
McRae played 195 AFL games, featuring in all three Lions grand final wins between 2001 and 2003, before retiring after the 2004 season.
He has served in assistant coaching gigs with the Magpies, Richmond, and currently Hawthorn.