The Magpies on Wednesday announced Adelaide-born McRae, originally from Glenelg in the SANFL, will become just the club’s third full-time coach this century, after Mick Malthouse (2000-2011) and Buckley (2012-2021).
Robert Harvey acted as Magpies caretaker coach after Buckley’s exit in June but the former St Kilda champion has agreed to end his 10-year association with the club.
McRae served as Hawthorn’s forwards coach this year, but previously worked as an assistant at Collingwood between 2011 and 2015.
The 47-year-old’s most notable coaching achievements came at Richmond, leading the Tigers to the 2019 VFL premiership as well as working as an assistant with the AFL side for five years.
McRae is now the fifth member of the Lions’ premiership era to become a senior coach, after Chris Scott, Brad Scott, Michael Voss and Justin Leppitsch.
Having previously worked with McRae, Harvey believes his former colleague inherits a list with a bright future, despite finishing 17th this year.
“I do think it’s exciting going forward for Craig and what he’s got to deal with and the fans should be really excited for the future,” Harvey told SEN on Wednesday.
McRae’s appointment is welcome news for Collingwood after a tumultuous 12 months, which started during last year’s trade period.
In a dramatic fire sale, the Magpies traded out key players Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson and Tom Phillips in a bid to relieve salary cap pressure.
Long-serving Collingwood president Eddie McGuire resigned in February after his bungled handling of the club’s ‘Do Better’ report into racism.
Despite making the semi-finals last year, the Magpies stumbled to a 2-9 start to the season as favourite son Buckley left following the round 13 upset win of premiership favourites Melbourne.
“I think everyone was shocked because it was pretty sudden,” Harvey said of Buckley’s departure.
“That reverberated throughout the whole building and it was pretty difficult.”
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