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Bucks tells Will: 'Back yourself'

Jennifer Phelan - AFL Media  April 6, 2017 1:07 PM

The key performers of open training Today on The Source, some key players were missing, but it didn't stop others from putting their hands up for selection during Collingwood's first training session of the week at the Holden Centre.
Will Hoskin-Elliott has been one of Collingwood's shining lights in the early rounds of the 2017 season.

Will Hoskin-Elliott has been one of Collingwood's shining lights in the early rounds of the 2017 season.

Collingwood midfielder Will Hoskin-Elliott says he's thriving under coach Nathan Buckley's directive to "back yourself", and has described the former champion as "a real caring bloke".

The heat has been turned up on Buckley following the Pies' inauspicious start to the season, and a lot has been made about his relationships with his players.

Hoskin-Elliott said on Wednesday there was more to Buckley than the hard-nosed football fanatic often portrayed.

"He's not just worried about the footy side of things. He wants to know you as a person and who you are outside of footy," Hoskin-Elliott told AFL Media.

"I get along really well with him.

"Most of the boys are exactly like me, they get along really well with Bucks.

"He cares for us as people as well as footballers. He's a real caring bloke."

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Hoskin-Elliott admitted he proudly wore No. 5 on his jumper as a young Collingwood supporter, and also loved watching current assistant coaches Scott Burns, Anthony Rocca and Tarkyn Lockyer play and "Chris Tarrant take hangers".

The half-forward arrived at Collingwood in last year's trade period when the Magpies sent their 2017 second round selection to Greater Western Sydney.

Injuries have cruelled Hoskin-Elliott's career to date.

He's played just 52 games in five years, and problems with his quadricep, hamstring and hip – "pretty much everything around the bottom of the leg" – hindered 2016.

He said a full pre-season and Buckley's instruction to take the game on had given him a new lease on life, which had contributed to his impressive form in the opening two rounds.

"There's more of a focus on expression within your own game (at Collingwood), than just playing as a team," he said.

"(Buckley) likes you to show how you play football. If you can get the ball and run and kick goals, you do that.

"If you like to go back and take some marks, like Jeremy Howe, back yourself.

"He shows faith in the boys with what they do."

From the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine, the 23-year-old was keen to come home after five years living in Homebush while at the Giants.

While rapt to be back in his home state close to family and friends, he admitted he was still getting used to the suffocating media interest in his new club.

"That's been different, coming from the Giants where there's no media attention and not many cameras at training," he said.

"It's been pretty confronting at times to walk into training and see the boys early in the morning in front of the camera straight away - different, but enjoyable."