Nick Daicos, Scott Pendlbury and Jordan De Goey among Collingwood players to come under fire over shock loss

Ben McClellan
The Nightly
4 Min Read
Nick Daicos has been widely criticised for his efforts in Collingwood’s shock loss.
Nick Daicos has been widely criticised for his efforts in Collingwood’s shock loss. Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

The knives are out for Collingwood’s stars.

After their horror start to the season became an outright nightmare on Thursday night with a shock 15-point loss to St Kilda, pundits were calling out a host of players for failing to fire.

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Collingwood’s rising star Nick Daicos came under attack from outspoken Port Adelaide premiership winner and leading commentator Kane Cornes.

“Nick Daicos was timid last night. I know that’s a criticism he probably hasn’t copped much through 50 games and it’s really tough to single him out, because he’s been as consistent as anyone,” he told SEN Radio on Friday.

“But he was timid in the contest. He missed tackles, he fumbled and he was jumpy. Jordan De Goey is jumpy. Steele Sidebottom goes back with one hand instead of putting his full body there and costs them a goal.

“Darcy Moore is just missing a spoil because I don’t think he genuinely wants to put it all on the line.”

The 21-year-old’s 50th AFL game was one to forget despite 22 touches. Fans were livid with some of his defensive efforts, a part of his game that had largely been overshadowed by his previously electric attacking flair and the team’s 2023 success.

The Nightly columnist Leigh Matthews was the first to call-out the Pies old brigade last week writing Scott Pendlebury, Sidebottom and Jeremy Howe were showing their age and may no longer be fit for purpose.

“At some point Pendlebury is going to be finished. He looks finished to me,” Cornes said.

“I think the first sign your time is coming to an end is if you go to ground a lot, if you’re not prepared to take contact and you look for cheap free kicks.

“I’m seeing that with Scott at the moment.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 21: Scott Pendlebury of the Magpies competes with Zak Jones of the Saints during the round two AFL match between St Kilda Saints and Collingwood Magpies at Melbourne Cricket Ground, on March 21, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
Are Scott Pendlebury’s days numbered? Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Jason Dunstall told Fox Footy after being 0-2 heading into the match Collingwood “weren’t prepared to put their bodies on the line like St Kilda were”.

No-one would have enjoyed the Saints potentially season-defining win more than former club great Leigh Montanga who was equally scathing of Collingwood’s elder statesmen.

“To be fair, some of the veteran senior players just aren’t quite the same,” Montagna told Fox Footy.

“Some of their veterans — who have been so good for them for so long — they just haven’t come to the party to start the season.

“They don’t look invested, that’s obvious ... They don’t look anywhere near as tough as what we saw last year.”

Collingwood appear to be sorely missing Nathan Murphy in defence who has not played since being concussed in last year’s grand final win.

“I don’t know if they’re as invested in this method of defence, or this pattern of play anymore,” North Melbourne two-time flag winner David King told Fox Footy. “They’re looking for easy kicks ... they look jittery.”

“It’s a really disrespectful way of playing, it really is. When it fails, it looks really poor — I don’t know whether they paid the price on offence or defence.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 21: Dejected Magpies players walk from the ground after the round two AFL match between St Kilda Saints and Collingwood Magpies at Melbourne Cricket Ground, on March 21, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
Collingwood players exit stage left after the disastrous defeat. Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Collingwood coach Craig McRae offered an interesting analogy to make sense of the club’s woes after the match.

He’s likened his out-of-sorts team to a tray of lasagne that has the ingredients out of kilter.

“At the end of the day, if you have too much cheese on your lasagne, it doesn’t matter, it won’t affect the result,” he said.

“You have to get busy and do the things right. The fundamentals of the game are really important and that’s where we’ll put our energy.”

In a sign of how dire the defeat was McRae left their players on their own on the MCG for a few extra minutes after the loss to let them stew on what had happened.

“You can see fundamental skills that are just sloppy, rusty, clunky,” he said.

“There are a lot of fundamental errors that we’re making, from experienced players, that you wouldn’t expect.

“We have some of our best players, and some of the most decorated players you’ve seen in the game, are somewhat ... we’re all in this.

“It’s time to get busy, isn’t it.”

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 21: Craig McRae, Senior Coach of the Magpies looks on during the 2024 AFL Round 02 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Collingwood Magpies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 21, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Craig McRae has provided some cooking tips in his post-match comments. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images

But McRae said there some positives to take out of the game such as Billy Frampton’s game in defence and he’s determined that their poor start to the season will not affect morale.

“What you see in front of you is a guy who hates losing. I absolutely hate losing,” he said.

“But what you don’t see is the joy and the happiness and love and support for our players and staff.

“I have their backs ... that stuff is not going to change.”

Collingwood will face their grand final opponents, the also winless Brisbane, next week Thursday. The Lions have the bye with Carlton this round..

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