July 14, 2024

Collingwood coach Craig McRae has revealed he cried in the car following the team’s round two loss to St Kilda.

But the trigger wasn’t the 15-point defeat that relegated the reigning champions to an 0-3 start to the season.

Rather it was several text messages shared between the coach and his players after the game that brought out the emotions.

“After we lost to St Kilda… before the game I said ‘regardless of what happens in this game, guys, I’ve got your back. I’ve got you, and I’m going to be here for you, it’s unconditional’,” McRae told SEN’s The Run Home with Andy & Gazey.

“So the game finishes and, clearly, we didn’t get the job done. So, on the board (in the dressing room) that’s all I wrote — ‘I got you’.

“We’ve been through a lot together, this group. A lot of shared memories.

“When I’m going home in the car, I thought ‘you know what? I’m going to text each player individually a bit deeper’. (I sent) ‘I got you’, love hearts, ‘I’m here for you’.

“Within about 10, 15 minutes of texting everybody, everybody’s texting me back at the same time, and the level of unconditional love and support this group’s got… man, there were some tears in the car, I’ll give you the tip.”

McRae’s approach is in stark contrast to how many coaches would respond to a third straight defeat.AFL 2021, Collingwood, racism, Heritier Lumumba, Magpies, remarks, Twitter

But the bond he’s formed with the Collingwood players helped the club to last year’s premiership, and this time it resulted in a round three win over Brisbane.

“It was nice, and I just wanted to make the players realise that winning is (pressure) and outcome driven,” he explained.

“The processes of the care, support, and all the layers it takes to be successful, they’re all still there.

“Under all adversity things do start to tear, and we don’t need to tear ourselves apart. The unconditional support is still there and real strong.”

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