June 25, 2024

AFL premiership legend Dermott Brereton expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to share his Anzac Day experiences with the Magpies. Meanwhile, coach Craig McRae emphasized the importance of attention to detail as they prepare for their highly anticipated clash against Essendon on Thursday.

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Brereton, who is now 59 years old, enjoyed a remarkable career, winning five premierships with Hawthorn during their dominant era in the 1980s and early 1990s. He concluded his AFL journey with the Magpies in 1995, notably participating in the historic draw of the inaugural Anzac Day encounter between Essendon and Collingwood, where Saverio Rocca’s goal secured a tie.

Brereton participated in the Magpies’ monthly “side-by-side” meeting, where he shared his insights and experiences.

“I talked about the atmosphere and the significance of the occasion,” Brereton recalled. “Back then, we didn’t fully grasp the magnitude of the event. It was amazing to see the massive crowd, something we hadn’t quite anticipated.”

Reflecting on the opportunity to address the team, Brereton expressed gratitude for being welcomed back to the club where he had fond memories.

McRae commended Brereton as an excellent choice for a guest speaker.

McRae highlighted Brereton’s unique perspective, considering his involvement in one of the Anzac Day games during his playing career.

“We considered bringing in a few other players, but Brereton’s extensive experience and success in the game, particularly as a Collingwood player, made him a standout choice,” McRae explained.

Recognizing the significance of the Anzac Day clash, McRae emphasized the importance of maintaining focus on the game itself, rather than getting caught up in the emotions of the occasion. He cited Scott Pendlebury’s approach as an example, noting that Pendlebury’s advice is to concentrate on “just playing the game.”

McRae emphasized the importance of maintaining composure despite the grandeur of the occasion, acknowledging the potential for players to feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the event.

“It’s crucial to stay focused on the task at hand. Despite the large crowd expected, we need to stick to our processes and break down the game into manageable increments,” McRae explained. He also expressed confidence in fielding an unchanged lineup from their recent victory over Port Adelaide.

Reflecting on the significance of the Anzac Day clash, McRae highlighted Darcy Moore’s poignant tribute to war veterans and their families following last year’s thrilling victory over the Bombers.

“The day holds immense significance for all of us, especially for the families connected to war veterans. We aim to honor their sacrifices and hopefully bring some joy to those who have endured hardship,” McRae said, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to participate in such a meaningful event.

Despite a challenging start to the season, the Magpies have shown resilience with consecutive wins, including a remarkable comeback against Port Adelaide, signaling a return to form reminiscent of their premiership-winning campaign last year.

McRae highlighted Essendon’s formidable midfield, led by players like Zach Merrett, Sam Durham, Nic Martin, and Jye Caldwell, emphasizing their strength around stoppages.

“Their proficiency in stoppage situations is exceptional, ranking among the top two in various metrics such as scoring efficiency and pressure,” McRae noted. He acknowledged the need for his team to excel in this aspect of the game to counter Essendon’s strengths.

“Each game presents unique challenges, and this week we must focus on stoppages among other aspects. Additionally, Essendon is known to defensively pack the midfield, requiring us to navigate through dense opposition numbers,” McRae added.

The Magpies aim to maintain their winning streak in Anzac Day clashes, especially considering the anticipated wet and slippery conditions.

Nick Daicos continues to impress with an average of nearly 30 possessions, showcasing his influence with 14 score involvements and 755 meters gained in the recent match against the Power. His brother Josh, the reigning Copeland Trophy winner, is also performing strongly with an average of almost 25 touches per game. Additionally, Jordan De Goey’s 27 disposals were pivotal in Saturday’s victory.

Ruckman Darcy Cameron has been in excellent form, recording 25 hitouts, 18 disposals, and seven clearances against the Power. He may face a challenge from Essendon’s formidable duo of Sam Draper and Todd Goldstein if both are selected by the Bombers.

Memory lane: Dermott Brereton addressed the Magpies on Tuesday about the significance of playing on Anzac Day.

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