AFL grand final; Collingwood livewire Jack Ginnivan labelled a big-game player

Collingwood coach Craig McRae has labelled livewire forward Jack Ginnivan a “big-game player” who will give the Magpies an important “spark” in attack, declaring at least 10 goals will be needed to win Saturday’s AFL grand final.

Ginnivan, an Anzac Day medallist in 2022 on the back of a five-goal effort in front of 85,000 people, was picked ahead of Pat Lipinski in one of two changes to Collingwood’s starting 22 for the showdown with the Brisbane Lions.

McRae said the potency of Brisbane’s forward line meant he expected different conditions to the Magpies’ first two finals, which Collingwood won by single-figure margins without kicking 10 goals in either game.

Collingwood toppled Melbourne in the qualifying final with 9.6 (60) and GWS in the preliminary final with 8.10 (58), but McRae said he “wouldn’t have thought” that would be enough to keep the Lions, who have averaged 14 goals a game during a six-match winning streak, at bay on Saturday afternoon.

“I wouldn’t have thought so – each game presents something different, but this opposition are clearly potent in attack and we’re going to have to defend the ground well as well,” McRae said after Friday’s grand final parade.

“We’re confident in our defence too. We’ve only kicked nine or 10 goals each game, but we’ll keep the opposition to less than us … we’ll defend the ground pretty well.”

McRae said Ginnivan’s Anzac Day record had proven his big-game credentials despite not being called upon to start during this finals series in which he has played as the sub, and there was no bigger game than the grand final.

“We just think Jack will give us a bit of a spark … he’s a big-game player, and he’s proven that on Anzac Day. He’s kicked multiple goals this year and last year,” he said.

“We want to give it a little bit more potency up forward obviously with Dan (McStay) out, kicking a couple of goals each week, we think Jack can play that role for us.”

McRae said the decision to effectively confirm Collingwood’s 23 grand final players by Wednesday had been an attempt to reduce anxiety among fringe players leading into selection.

The coach confirmed Billy Frampton would replace the injured McStay in a radio interview, with the former Crow set to play as a forward after spending most of the season in defence or the ruck.

“I thought it was really important that we get that sort of stuff out of the way. Once we made a decision at match committee that (Frampton) was the guy, we backed the guy in,” McRae said.

“A great story for him – with the heartache for others, there’s always a good story as well, and that’s certainly one of those.”

McRae said fast and unpredictable ball movement more than forward personnel would determine how well Collingwood could limit Brisbane co-captain Harris Andrews’ impact behind the ball.

“I think everybody in the competition knows what his capabilities are. He’s an incredible intercept marker, not too dissimilar to (Darcy Moore) next to me, just so influential in the air and integral in their team defence,” McRae said.

“I think the major part of taking care of a guy like him is the way we move the ball … as much as we’d like to get that ball to the ground, some of our ball movement will certainly assist that.”

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