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Collingwood coach Craig McRae says Billy Frampton will give the Magpies much-needed versatility after the athletic tall was confirmed as Daniel McStay’s replacement for the AFL grand final.
Key forward McStay is one of the heartbreak stories after he hurt his knee in the preliminary final win over Greater Western Sydney last Friday.
Frampton played the most recent of his 15 games this season in round 24 but has been an emergency through the finals. The West Australian trained with the Magpies’ “A” team at training this week in a sign he was firmly in contention to face the Lions.
Making the leap: Magpies tall Billy Frampton will return to the team for Saturday’s grand final.Credit: Getty Images
McRae said Frampton would give the Magpies added versatility, given he can play in defence, up forward and in the ruck.
“I am comfortable to say to the footy world that Billy Frampton will play. He gets an opportunity to come in. I told him [on Tuesday] afternoon. We are excited about what Bill can do for us,” McRae said on Wednesday.
“He can play forward for us where need be, and he can go down back and play on the likes of [Joe] Daniher and others, and he can play second ruck. He gives us good flexibility in the team.
“For every heartache story, there is an opportunity.”
Speaking on SEN, McRae said Frampton, capable of completing strong contested marks, could also allow ruckman Mason Cox to spend more time inside attacking 50. The Pies also have Darcy Cameron in the ruck.
“In many ways, we often pick a team like that – one out, one in, who can play that role. For Bill, it gives us a bit more flexibility,” McRae said.
“If Bill plays back, we can move Howey [Jeremy Howe] forward, and we have shown that card before. And also in the ruck – if we want to play Mason a little bit more forward, we can play Bill in the ruck. So, normally, it is one in, one out, but, in this case, we have some flexibility.”
McStay will be missed. He has four of the Magpies’ 17 goals through the finals so far.
Vice-captain Taylor Adams, who missed the preliminary final because of a hamstring strain, has also been ruled out of the sport’s showcase event. McRae said Adams had not re-injured himself at training on Tuesday, but still knew he wasn’t fully fit.
“Tay had some awareness in his hamstring at training [on Tuesday]. Is it sacrificial, the language you want to use, he doesn’t feel he is quite right to put himself out there. He hasn’t re-strained it, but he just has great body awareness,” McRae said.
“He just feels he is not quite right. We put our love and support around those guys, among others.”
The Magpies are yet to determine who will begin as their substitute. Jack Ginnivan has fulfilled that role twice through the finals. Speedy small defender John Noble is pushing for a recall, while Patrick Lipinski could be under pressure after he struggled to have an impact against the Giants.
“I don’t want to be perfect – let’s have a game plan that is fun to watch.”
“We are still working through that. We have training [on Thursday], finalising our 22, 23, and, we always do, we will announce who our sub is,” McRae said.
McRae said the Magpies would keep McStay and Adams close to the playing group.
“Unfortunately for Dan, that is a story that has played out already. We want him to stay really close. We are not in this position without him. He has had a great finals series. For all the judges who said ‘why did you get McStay?’, you could see now how important he is to our structure,” he said.
McRae said the Magpies had no intention of playing “boring” football against the Lions, and would look to move the ball quickly. McRae had been frustrated with the opening half against the Giants – his team too often kicking long down the line to a contest.
“I don’t want to be perfect – let’s have a game plan that is fun to watch,” he said.
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