Tyson Goldsack’s marking ability will be a big positive for the Magpies’ defence against West Coast.Nathan Buckley admits Collingwood’s decision to pick Tyson Goldsack, Adam Treloar and Jeremy Howe for Saturday’s AFL qualifying final against West Coast is a gamble.
But the Magpies coach is adamant the recently-injured trio will provide the right mix to conquer the Eagles at their Optus Stadium fortress.
Key defender Goldsack’s senior return comes just six months after the 31-year-old underwent a knee reconstruction, while Treloar has missed the past nine games after suffering a highly unusual double-hamstring injury.
Howe hasn’t played at any level in six weeks after copping a nasty cork to his thigh which required minor surgical intervention.
“Given that Tyson hasn’t played for a while, Adz has missed a bit of footy and Howie has missed our last five or six weeks, there’s some form of question mark in regard to that,” Buckley told reporters at Melbourne Airport on Friday.
“But if you had all the information and you’d seen the block of training these guys have put in, all three of them, you wouldn’t be concerned about their capacity to do what they need to do.
“Finals intensity goes up but that’ll be a test for all 44 players.”
The trio won recalls at the expense of Jack Madgen, Nathan Murphy and Adam Oxley who were all dropped for the trip to Perth to meet an Eagles side bolstered by the return of spearhead Josh Kennedy from a five-match absence because of a fractured shin.
Goldsack’s return is a shock considering his time on the sidelines but few teams have been able to stop the fearsome tandem of Kennedy and Jack Darling, and the growing likelihood that Kennedy would play reinforced Buckley’s convictions.
“We’re coming up against a side that’s got some real strength in the air,” he said.
“We’ve existed with a back six with some aerial capabilities but Goldy definitely strengthens that and so does Howie.
“That’s probably a part of our make-up that we feel like we’ve strengthened with these selections and it’s going to be an important part of getting the job done.”
West Coast also recalled speedster Lewis Jetta, while Oscar Allen and Will Schofield were omitted.
The Eagles’ uncontested marking and ability to retain possession has been a trademark this season but Buckley noted they were also capable of moving the ball at speed and supplying their dangerous small forwards.
He was also quick to rubbish talk of the Magpies’ preparations being thrown into “chaos” after a group of 13 early-departing players had a lengthy flight delay on Thursday night.
“I had a couple of red lights on the way here as well … everything seems to be against us,” a deadpan Buckley said.
“We’ll see if we can get over it and find a way.”