AAP AFL

Qld hub life lifts ‘sombre’ Magpies’ mood

By AAP Newswire

Under-fire AFL heavyweights Collingwood have put a disastrous end to their time in Western Australia behind them and are already happier on the Gold Coast.

A promising season has recently gone into freefall with injuries, COVID-19 protocol breaches and consecutive defeats leaving the Magpies precariously placed outside the top eight.

They have relocated to Queensland, after almost a month in Perth, with a clash against second-bottom Sydney on Thursday at the Gabba coming just four days after their shock defeat to Fremantle on Sunday.

Despite travelling across the country and contending with a short turnaround before tackling the Swans, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says his team's spirits have lifted.

"We were a little bit sombre Sunday night and Monday morning," Buckley said on Wednesday.

"Jumping on a plane and getting over here brought more than a touch of light to us given the boys ran into their families on Monday night.

"They were met by a banner the wives and children had put together over the course of the day, it was quite emotional actually."

Buckley had his own issues to contend with in Perth, copping a $25,000 fine after he and his assistant Brenton Sanderson played tennis with Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik.

The coronavirus breach came just a day after Magpies president Eddie McGuire hit out at other clubs for not adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

Buckley said off-field dramas weren't the only reason why Collingwood's form has faltered after starting life in WA with an impressive victory over Geelong.

Having key players, including captain Scott Pendlebury, sidelined hasn't helped their cause.

Veteran midfielder Pendlebury is yet to recover from a quad injury and will sit out the clash with the Swans.

But key defender Jordan Roughead will come straight back into the side after being a surprise omission against the Dockers.

Buckley defended dropping the Western Bulldogs premiership player, saying the club needed to be smart about how it managed a weary group during a busy schedule of games.

"We try and put as balanced a 22 out as we can each week," Buckley said.

"We know that we weren't going to be able to put the same 22 out on the park for the four games so we found an opportunity for (debutant) Mark Keane, who did some good things."

Chris Mayne has been dropped while fellow veteran Travis Varcoe will miss the clash due to personal reasons.

Injury-riddled veteran Ben Reid has been included for his first senior game of 2020, replacing omitted big man Darcy Cameron.

Collingwood will unleash their fourth debutant of the season, picking 18-year-old defender Trey Ruscoe.