MELBOURNE – Willing spirits will more than compensate for tired bodies in today’s Anzac Day AFL clash between Collingwood and Essendon.
Magpies boss Nathan Buckley said despite both sides entering today’s match after just a four-day break, there would be no excuse for any late drop-off.
“You’re going to have to find something when you haven’t got it,” will be Buckley’s demand to his troops.
“Once you’re tired, you’re tired, it becomes a mental challenge,” he told reporters.
“There’s not going to be any excuses for lack of performance or lack of workrate.
“It is what it is and our players are ready to go.”
Similarly, Bombers counterpart James Hird, a winner of three Anzac Medals as a player, said the combatants’ desire to excel in the blockbuster annual fixture would trump the fatigue factor.
“There’s no doubt it’s not going to be a normal game, in terms of a seven-day break,” Hird said.
“But you listen to both sets of players talk in the media over the past couple of days and they would have played the day after, they would have played on Sunday if they had to.
“It’s such an important game for both clubs and such a privilege to play in it.”
The Magpies have won five of the past six Anzac Day clashes, including turning a two-point lead early in the last term into a five-goal win last year.
But they entered that round five game unbeaten.
This time, it is the Bombers unbeaten and in superior form, coming off their upset win over Carlton.
A win today would lift Essendon three games clear of the Magpies, with Buckley saying their respective standings was enough to give the game “massive significance”, only enhanced by the anticipated huge crowd and solemn occasion.
Collingwood will gain a morale boost from the long-awaited return of 2010 premiership hero Nathan Brown.
Serious knee injuries have kept the defender out of AFL action since his pivotal blanketing jobs on St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt in the 2010 drawn grand final and replay victory.
But forward Alan Didak has only been named among the emergencies, despite having returned successfully from a pre-season adductor injury through the VFL.
This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.