AFL news 2023: Dan McStay set to miss AFL Grand Final with suspected MCL injury

Collingwood coach Craig McRae wants his team to “celebrate hard” before entering its Grand Final preparations but has conceded Dan McStay is unlikely to join his teammates in the decider after suffering a knee injury in the stunning one-point win.

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McStay, who was consoled by teammates and staff post-game after he limped off the ground in the third term and was subbed out following an important two-goal performance, has a suspected medial ligament injury.

Heartbreak looms for the first-year Magpie as McRae said vice-captain Taylor Adams would need “every second” of the week to recover from a hamstring strain in time for the Grand Final.

“ (McStay) is going to get scans … I’m not sure if it’s an MCL, I don’t want to put a definite decision on it, but I think he might be unlucky to miss out,” McRae said.

“At the moment, until you really know, you just put your arms around him and show love and support as best you can … that will play out pretty quickly, I would’ve thought.

“Early he was significant, jumping and marking the ball. You can see why we got him, why he’s important to us … if he doesn’t quite get up, he will be missed.”

Fox Footy’s Jon Ralph said it could be a case of potential heartbreak for the Pies recruit.

“Unfortunately, had his knee trapped and potentially bent sideways in an incident with Jack Buckley,” Ralph said.

“It wasn’t anything deliberate but the collateral damage was significant.

“He had it strapped up, tried to get back on the field. Wasn’t even able to test it on the field.

“Collingwood is saying right now only it’s a knee sprain – they’ll be worried it’s a medial ligament at best. At worst, potentially a PCL.

“I asked him how he was, he said ‘it’s not great’. Certainly as he was being consoled by his family there was an area of resignation there so I think a lot would have to go right for Dan McStay to be able to play.”

The coach said he was thrilled with how his team responded to the Giants’ five-goal surge, which gave them the biggest lead of the match at 17 points early in the third term.

“I thought we hung in there when we needed to, and as good as they were I think our ability just to hang tough without the scoreboard (being affected) too much more,” he said.

“The message at halftime was I thought we were a bit too slow and stodgy. We didn’t move the ball quick enough, not brave enough, not enough overlap run and get some chaos in the game.

“That was the message, and then we had to put Nick (Daicos) back to halfback to get some run and carry, and try and get the game going a bit more.”

McRae said the younger Daicos would only get better after he worked his way into the game with 16 second-half disposals after a shift into defence.

He said it would be a fitting reward for the 20-year-old’s season if he could hang onto the lead in Monday night’s Brownlow Medal count.

“It would be pretty special, wouldn’t it? It’s a reflection of his year, it’s a reflection of us as a team,” he said.

“Five weeks to go, it will be interesting where he sits.”

McRae said Jordan De Goey’s dominant midfield performance again showed how much he had matured in the past two years.

The 27-year-old had 34 disposals and 13 clearances, six more than any other player, as he continually thrust the Magpies forward.

“What a great game from him, I thought he set himself up for the last final unbelievably well, he trained at a level that I thought, ‘he’s going to tear the game apart against Melbourne’, but it didn’t quite come through to that,” McRae said.

“What you’ve seen definitely is a guy who has grown up.”

The coach said the tireless rehearsing of late game scenarios in his two-year tenure had again helped his team hold firm in the tense closing stages.

“We’re really proud of our journey, we mentioned during the week that it takes two years to get to these moments … two years of doing one-on-one fight drills – you saw some of those contests in the last quarter, how much we rehearsed those moments,” McRae said.

“All those lessons are why we’re here now and we’re still breathing, because we practice it … two minutes to go, kill the game, two minutes to go, we need to win.

“It’s over and over, it’s rehearsed for these moments … but we’ve got work to do, there’s a couple of scenarios in particular in that last quarter I thought we could have executed better.”

He told his players to embrace the hype which will follow them this week.

“The message after the game was ‘smell it all, take it all in, embrace every single bit of it’. The parades, the training, the crowds – there will be a hurricane going on around you and we’ve just got to sit in the middle of it and do the job that we need to do.”

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