Collingwood has appointed Craig McRae to the position of AFL senior coach.
The 47-year-old becomes just the 16th VFL/AFL senior coach in the club’s 129-year history.
A triple premiership player with Brisbane who has shared in success as an assistant coach, VFL coach and development coach over the last 15 years, McRae has been appointed for the next three seasons.
McRae was an assistant to Damien Hardwick in Richmond’s premiership years of 2017, 2019 and 2020 and coached the Tigers to the VFL premiership in 2019. He worked by Alastair Clarkson’s side at Hawthorn as an assistant this year. Six years with the incredibly successful Melbourne Storm as a specialist coach are also on his list of achievements.
McRae is no stranger to Collingwood. He was head of the club’s highly productive AFL Academy between 2011-2015, during which time he worked with the likes of Jamie Elliott, Brodie Grundy and Darcy Moore.
McRae was identified and chosen to succeed Nathan Buckley as senior coach by a coaching sub-committee comprised of CEO Mark Anderson, GM of Football Graham Wright, football director and former player Paul Licuria, director Peter Murphy and 2010 premiership player Luke Ball.
“The success that Craig has been able to share in, as a player and a coach, and the quality of the programs he has worked in say a great deal about him,” Collingwood president, Mark Korda, said.
“So does his dedication to the craft of coaching. Craig has built an incredibly impressive and holistic coaching resume that says he is widely educated as a coach, one who teaches the game and develops players, builds connections, commands respect and has a sharp tactical eye. He has also coached his own teams.
“Given the course we set as a club 12 months ago, which was to recalibrate the AFL program and introduce a lot of young talent over a two or three year period, we see it that Craig’s attributes complement our profile extremely well.
“With a new coach, a relatively new GM of Football and a strong focus on development we believe a new time is being created, one I hope Collingwood members and fans will share in and enjoy in the years ahead.”
McRae thanked Collingwood for the opportunity to lead a team in his own right but stressed that he saw the future as a collective challenge.
“I have a role to play but so does every player and member of the football program. We will only rise together,” McRae said.
“Success is the product of a process. I have been fortunate to witness up close and share in some very successful programs and I know that teaching solid habits can build a winning habit of its own.
“If we remain realistic about where we are, work hard, make smart decisions, think selflessly and understand that you can always learn from the game then we should make progress.
“The playing group that I’ve seen from afar appears to be very talented. Quite a few are new to the AFL and they will need nurturing but we should all – rookie or veteran - expect to be better in 2022 than we were in 2021.”
1995 – 2004 Brisbane FC
195 game career
Retired in 2004
2007 – 2009: Richmond FC player development coach
2010: Brisbane FC development coach
2011 – 2015: Collingwood FC head of development
2016 – 2020: Richmond FC assistant coach
2017 – 2019: Richmond FC VFL head coach
2021: Hawthorn FC assistant coach
2022: Collingwood FC senior coach
Playing/ coaching honours
2001, 2002, 2003 AFL premierships as a player
2014 AFLCA Development Coach of the Year
2019 VFL premiership coach
2017, 2019, 2020 AFL premiership assistant coach
2019 AFLCA Assistant Coach of the Year
2019 VFL Coach of the Year