Sport AFL Buckley: Pies will contend in 2014

Buckley: Pies will contend in 2014

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Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley insists his team will enter the 2014 season stronger despite the loss of Premiership players Heath Shaw and Dale Thomas.

Unveiling three recruits from another productive off-season on Wednesday, Buckley said Taylor Adams, Jesse White and Patrick Karnezis would keep the Magpies in formidable shape and denied the loss of the two big name players would set his side back.

Instead, Buckley said the key departures were an “example of the economy of modern footy”.

“(Thomas) has chosen to take his free agency option, and move on to his next opportunity, and the club has acted on (Shaw), as is our right to see what we could get from that,” he said.

Buckley denied there was a personal falling out with Shaw, calling the decision to end his nine-year association with the Magpies “mutual”.

“I think Heath’s very comfortable with his decision. He had every right to stay at the club for two years but in discussions with the club post-season, the position of the club and the player was pretty clear,” he said.

He was convinced the off-season “pruning” meant the club’s best 22 would be better in 2014 and contend for the Premiership.

“To say we underperformed last year is stating the facts.”

“The majority of players that finished in the top five of the (club best and fairest) are still intact.

“The strategy at the club is to continue to renew and to find ways of being better on the field… we believe we’ve been able to maintain and protect the core of our talent within our list.”

The new recruits donned the jersey at the Westpac Centre, with the coach not anticipating any major shake-ups in their playing roles.

Karnezis is expected to compete for a forward line position alongside White, who will also have stints in the ruck, putting them in direct competition with last year’s under-performing recruit Quinten Lynch.

Adams, a straight swap for Shaw, will play as an in-and-under midfielder.

Buckley holds high expectations for Adams, who he coached at under-16 level, with the 20-year-old adamant Buckley is the man to develop his football.

“Knowing Bucks and what he was all about… I think he gets the best out of all his players and his staff,” Adams said.

Collingwood has opted against high-altitude training in the United States this off-season, the first time in eight seasons they won’t head overseas.

Buckley said their training before Christmas will focus on leadership, while the new season’s leadership structure will be announced in February.

The fourth Collingwood recruit is Tony Armstrong, White’s former team-mate at Sydney, who is overseas.