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Noble to debut against Eagles

Press Conference: Noble & Buckley Hear from debutant John Noble and Nathan Buckley ahead of the clash with West Coast.

Collingwood will unveil its second debutant in as many weeks, with mid-season draftee John Noble to make a fairytale rise to AFL football after just three VFL games.

Noble, a pacy 22-year-old half-back flanker and wingman from West Adelaide, has been thrown into the cauldron to face reigning premier West Coast at Optus Stadium on Friday night.

Pies coach Nathan Buckley said he believed Noble was up to the challenge and hoped his inclusion, a week after the debut of top draftee Isaac Quaynor, would help the Pies address their need for more dash and dare.

Noble has accumulated possession tallies of 22, 22 and 28 in his three VFL appearances.

However, he won't be joined by midfielder Taylor Adams, who will miss a 10th successive game with an adductor problem.

Meanwhile, defender Levi Greenwood could return from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the loss to Hawthorn last round, and the Pies will see how Josh Thomas recovers from a sore hip.

Buckley lauded Noble's maturity, professionalism and ability to learn quickly.

"We're reflecting on a whirlwind couple of months, doing pre-season with a club in South Australia and now finishing up in another state playing your first game of AFL footy to fulfil a dream is something that we're very happy to provide, but (it's) well earned," the Pies coach told reporters on Wednesday.

"We see an opportunity where John's strengths are actually what we're asking for at the moment.

"He's got a lot of dash, he takes the game on, he uses the ball really well, he's courageous with his decisions, he's very forthright in the way that he goes about the game, but he's actually been defending very well, he's always in the right spot and competing and contesting really well."

Noble, a son of Brisbane football chief David Noble, found his meteoric rise "very overwhelming".

He was perhaps always going to be forced to do it the hard way.

He and his brother Mark (a South Adelaide player) are identical twins who were born premature, and John was "a bit ill" as a child, requiring him to take medication that prolonged his physical development.

"I always had the ability, it was just going to (take) a bit longer than somebody else," he said.

The late developer, a light-framed 180cm, averaged 22 disposals from seven SANFL games this year before Collingwood snared him with pick 14 in the AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft on May 27.

During his first few weeks at Collingwood, Noble stayed with midfielder Adams, who was "instrumental" in getting him settled.

The blond speedster was held back from playing for two weeks to learn the Pies' system and to improve his conditioning, but quickly made his presence felt in the VFL.

"If you told me I'd be making my debut at this time at the start of the year I'd say, 'You're kidding'. It's a childhood dream and I just can't wait to get out there," Noble said.


Collingwood's open training session on Wednesday attracted a huge gathering, prompting Buckley to quip: "We sent the message out that John was playing his first game – that's why everyone got down around him."

Noble travelled to Perth for the first time two months ago when he starred for the SANFL in a state game against the WAFL at Optus Stadium. That contest attracted 11,130 spectators, but when Noble returns there with the Pies they will confront a hostile crowd about five times that number.

Buckley expects the Pies to turn around the worrying form slump that has resulted in disappointing losses in their past two outings. Despite the fact they are third on the ladder, they are rank outsiders against the second-placed Eagles.

The Magpies have lost their past four games against the Eagles, including last year's qualifying final at Optus Stadium by 16 points and the Grand Final by five points.

It's the start of a decidedly tough stretch for Collingwood, which then faces Greater Western Sydney on the road and a resurgent Richmond at the MCG.

"We're not catastrophising at all about where we're at. We want to put ourselves in a good position to attack September, if we earn that," Buckley said.

Star backman Jeremy Howe is expected to return against the Giants.