Sport AFL AFL Big Sticks: Collingwood’s season of ups and downs hits Cox
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AFL Big Sticks: Collingwood’s season of ups and downs hits Cox

Collingwood's Mason Cox in action against Gold Coast before being poked in the eye. Photo: Getty
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Collingwood cannot seem to take a trick in recent weeks, with a morale-boosting win against Gold Coast possibly coming at the cost of another injury.

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley is cautiously optimistic big man Mason Cox hasn’t joined the lengthy injury list that has threatened to derail the AFL club’s top-four bid.

Cox sat out the second half of Sunday’s 18.12 (120) to 8.3 (51) win over Gold Coast at the MCG after copping a poke in the eye late in the second quarter.

After spending most of the season in second or third spot, the Pies have slipped to sixth as injuries to the likes of Jordan De Goey, Dayne Beams, Darcy Moore, Taylor Adams and Ben Reid took their toll.

But Buckley is quietly confident Cox will be available to take on Melbourne at the MCG next week.

“The doc ruled him out at half-time … and he’s off to get some specialist advice to clear him from any damage to the eye,” Buckley said.

“We’re not anticipating it to be anything major, but our doc was concerned enough to make sure we sent him away pretty quickly.

“He had blurred vision, which makes it pretty hard to play.”

Cox had four disposals, two marks and a goal to his name before he left the match.

The lanky American has copped some criticism after going goalless in his past two matches but Buckley was encouraged by his early form.

“The criticism that has come at times for our individuals … sometimes it’s warranted and other times it can be misplaced.

“There are some roles in our team that rely on the team’s football to be more coherent and well executed.

“It’s a tough job for our tall forwards when we don’t give them clean supply.

“I thought in the first half Coxy showed what happens when you can clean that supply up a little bit and give him an even-numbered contest a bit more regularly.”

Rance’s return the icing on the cake for Tigers

Star Richmond defender Alex Rance is growing in confidence he can return to AFL action this year, according to his teammate Bachar Houli.

Rance ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Round 1 but he hasn’t given up hope of returning during the finals.

Any return this year would come with significant risks and Richmond will probably err on the side of caution when decision day comes.

Alex Rance could be back soon. Photo: Getty

But Rance is doing everything within his powers to give himself a chance, and Houli has been amazed by the 29-year-old’s progress.

“He’s a very confident person that he will return,” Houli told Channel Seven’s Game Day.

 “The way he runs, it actually doesn’t look like he’s done any sort of damage. His recovery is A1.

“I see him in the cold plunge pool which I struggle to get in, sitting there for 10, 15 minutes.

“When you see that attitude and determination, he’s giving himself every opportunity to come back. I’d love to see him back. He just adds so much to our football club.”

Unfortunately for the Tigers, emerging star Jack Higgins has been ruled out for the remainder of this year’s campaign after suffering bleeding on his brain earlier this year.

“It’s better than expected,” Houli said.

“Initially there was going to be a serious surgery but I think, through a bit of research, it’s come out a little bit better.

“He’ll miss the rest of this season, but our heart and thoughts go with him and his family. It’s a very tough time.

“He came into the club two or three days ago. He was upbeat and it’s good to see him up and about.”

All aboard the Teague train

Carlton may have come up 24 points short short against West Coast Eagles on Sunday, but Carlton captain Patrick Cripps has backed interim coach David Teague taking on the role full time, saying “I’m on the Teague train”.

“I’ve heard #Teague2020 is getting around and I’m all for it,” Cripps told Channel Seven on Sunday.

Teague has rejuvenated the Blues since Brendon Bolton was removed from the coach’s box in June having just one win in 11 matches.

The David Teague train is rolling at Carlton. Photo: Getty

Under Teague, Carlton has rebounded with five victories in the past eight.

Teague’s biggest competition for the job is thought to be former Brisbane Lions skipper and coach Michael Voss.

If the decision was up to Cripps – the club’s brightest star – Teague would be given a contract tomorrow.

“The way the boys have been playing the last few weeks, the growth is definitely building,” he said. “Teaguey has brought the best out of certain players in different roles. The boys are buying into those roles.

“It has been some dark times, but the boys are starting to really believe and we’ve got some confidence about us.”

Cripps also revealed Teague, Carlton’s forward line coach under Bolton, was a key figure in an off-season recruitment.

“One thing about Teaguey I loved he always speaks his mind but he’s usually fun,” he said. “All the forwards loved him and that’s a big reason why Mitch McGovern came across from Adelaide, because of Teaguey.

“He’s got that balance where he has a laugh in front of the group so everyone relaxes around him. But when he flicks the switch and is serious, everyone stares straight through him and tunes in.”

-with AAP