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Port looms as next big test for desperate Pies

Football

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says he will walk away from the AFL club if he doesn’t think he’s the right man to lead the team forward.

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But with the Magpies in 11th spot with a 5-7 record, Buckley remains confident in his coaching ability and his team’s finals prospects.

Buckley is out of contract at the end of the season – his sixth in charge – and he famously said last year that he didn’t think he would remain in the job if the side didn’t make the finals in 2017.

The coach now says he would take that decision out of the club’s hands if he felt it was the right thing to do.

“I think one thing that people seem to forget is it’s a two-way street,” Buckley told the Nine Network’s Footy Classified last night.

“The club has a decision on me to whether they think I’m the man for the job, but I’ve also got a decision to think whether I’m going to put my hand up… whether I actually think that I’m getting the job done that I want to.

“I have confidence in myself but the fact is, that’s a judgement that I have to make as well.

“It’s not a fait accompli that we just rollover.

“I want to make finals. I believe that we are capable of making finals… I still think given an even run we will get there.

“If I felt at all that I wasn’t getting the best out of that group, I would put my hand up and walk away.

“But I feel pretty confident the players are absolutely invested. The leaders have been first class.”

Collingwood’s narrow loss to Melbourne yesterday didn’t help Buckley’s cause, but he believes the outlook for the second half of the season is bright.

The Pies slipped to second last on the ladder after their round eight loss to Greater Western Sydney, but strung three wins together before the loss to the Demons. They head into their bye week in 11th spot on the ladder, but would have been as high as sixth had they found a way past Melbourne in a Queen’s Birthday thriller.

Instead it was the Demons who moved into the top eight after overcoming a 28-point deficit in the second quarter to claim a famous 15.14 (104) to 15.10 (100) victory, with the oft-maligned Jack Watts kicking the sealer with two minutes on the clock.

Collingwood’s only two losses in the past five rounds have both been by less than a goal, to GWS and now Melbourne.

“We have used 29 or 30 players over the last seven weeks and it doesn’t matter who is in or who’s out, we’ve been as consistent as anyone,” said Buckley.

“Our fans should expect they’re going to get a consistent effort from our boys.”

After their bye week, Collingwood must regroup ahead of a huge match against fellow finals aspirants Port Adelaide, at the MCG on June 24.

No timeframe has been set down for talks on a new contract but Buckley is content to back himself on what he’s seen from his team this year.

“It’s been left open and I am more than happy to leave it that way,” he said.

“If you look at our last seven weeks in particular, but mostly the first half of the year, we’re actually building. We are playing better footy.

“We haven’t won as many games as we would have liked to, but I think any neutral perspective on how we are travelling as a side… we are looking more and more likely.”

-AAP

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