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Positive Pies won't copy Tiger blueprint

Ben Guthrie - AFL Media  December 6, 2017 8:00 AM

The Grind Ep3: Dreams realised Thousands dream of becoming an AFL footballer. But what's the moment like when you actually achieve it? Episode 3 of The Grind follows Collingwood's new draftees and rookies as they realise their dreams and take the first steps of their new lives in Black and White.
If anyone is trying to tell you that we're copying Richmond ... that won't be happening

Nathan Buckley has declared Collingwood won't copy reigning premier Richmond's game plan in 2018, preferring instead to maximise its own talent in a bid to return to the finals.

The overarching theme of the Magpies' members forum on Tuesday night was moving forward and fixing the existing shortcomings following the intensive internal review staged at the end of last season.

Buckley, who is contracted until the end of 2019, said the Pies'  success or failure next season would rest completely on their own performance and attitude.

"If anyone is trying to tell you that we're copying Richmond or we're trying to copy Western Bulldogs, that won't be happening," Buckley said.

"We have great strengths as an organisation, in our playing group, our coaching group and in our staff and we plan on maximising that and tell our own story in the process. 

"Our story will be ours and our future will be ours, not anyone else's." 

The re-signed coach detailed some significant changes to the game plan, including playing tall American Mason Cox in the same side as No. 1 ruckman Brodie Grundy more often.

Cox, who signed a three-year contract extension after significant interest from opposition clubs, and Grundy will spend portions of the game up forward to complement Ben Reid, Jordan De Goey, Jamie Elliott and top draftee Jaidyn Stephenson.

Emerging key-position prospect Darcy Moore will spend more time in defence in 2018, while developing defender Matthew Scharenberg will get plenty of opportunites to prosper after a series of knee issues have restricted him to just 14 senior games in four seasons.

Under new Strength and Conditioning Manager Kevin White, there have also been tweaks to the pre-season training program that include ball work and skill work within the fitness and running components.

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Nathan Buckley address the Collingwood faithful at the club's annual Member Forum.

Buckley said winning the "territory battle" – keeping the football locked inside the club's forward half more often – would be paramount to the Pies' playing style.

New team defence and backline coach Justin Longmuir has already played a key role in teaching those concepts to the players.

"We've identified the strongest element on our list is in contested ball and stoppage and we weren't able to force the game into that type of football often enough over the last couple of years," Buckley said.

"We're practising imposing our brand of football on the opposition and we're doing it in a game-like fashion on Mondays and Fridays and we're managing our players around that.

"We believe that when we get to the beginning of the season that we'll be ready to impose a game style that will give us the best chance of winning games of footy. 

"There's no doubt that we want to play more forward football and be prepared to kick to a contest more often and we're practising that."

Buckley reiterated that small forward Jamie Elliott, who had ankle surgery last month, would be primed and ready to go by round one.

"We're really confident that he'll be able to get back weight-bearing (on his ankle) by mid-January and Kev White is really confident he'll have him fit and firing by the beginning of the season," Buckley said.

When asked about the club's mooted pursuit of star Gold Coast forward and impending free agent Tom Lynch, new list manager Ned Guy would not go into specifics other than to say the club was prepared to be ruthless in its pursuit of the best talent available.

"We won't be making any apologies for building this list to building a premiership," Guy said.