Collingwood star Jordan De Goey is built for finals and looms as the trump card in Saturday’s grand final according to former coach Nathan Buckley, who says it may be “too soon” for him to present the premiership cup should the Magpies win.
After a stunning preliminary finals performance last Friday night, bookmakers have De Goey second favourite, behind only teammate Nick Daicos, to win the Norm Smith Medal in Saturday’s decider against the Brisbane Lions.
In the 2019 grand final loss to West Coast, De Goey kicked three goals in a losing Collingwood cause when Buckley was coach.
A Norm Smith medallist himself, Buckley compared De Goey’s desire for big-game football to Brownlow medallist and 2010 premiership player Dane Swan and said De Goey’s performance in the win over GWS showed his capacity to perform when it mattered most.
“I thought his performance was exceptional, he’s a finals-type player, he lived up to that billing and his coach was pretty happy with his performance too,” Buckley said on Monday.
“He is one of the best trainers, absolutely. When we made the shift from doing running in pre-season to just doing most of our working competitive drills, he went to another level again because he loves to play.
“He’s probably the closest thing to Swanny (Dane Swan). He needs to be engaged and stimulated by playing … the one aspect of his game that comes to the fore in finals is the ability to break tackles.
“You can’t tackle him … he would have broken as many tackles as any player has in a game of footy … what De Goey was able to do is break one tackle, then another guy has to come and pressure, then he was often getting through the second one, so beating two and then the third would come to him and he’d have two players he could put into space and then it creates the overlap.
“That’s where his massive influence came about in the game.”
Buckley, who captained the Magpies in two losing grand finals in 2002 and 2003, then coached in the 2019 loss, said he had “mixed emotions” this week having stepped down in 2021 before Craig McRae took over last season.
“But the large part of it is pride and hope,” he told SEN.
“But Craig McRae has done a fantastic job and I think he‘s getting the credit he deserves … I was really strongly emotionally connected 12 months ago. With another 12 months you’re a little bit further away, not as connected with the individuals because that’s another 12 months where you don’t see them every day.
“So I’m sort of sitting one out and one back. I’d love to see any of the players that I’ve been involved with and the club itself get rewarded for the work its done.”
The AFL will select a great from either Collingwood or the Lions to present the premiership cup to the winner, and while he looms as a possible choice, Buckley didn’t think it would be his time.
“It might be too soon as well,” he said.