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Magpies keep it about themselves in AFL

3 minute read

Rather than focus too much on Melbourne, Nathan Murphy and his Collingwood teammates say it's all about how they perform in the Queen's Birthday blockbuster.

LUKE BREUST. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Something like Darcy Cameron's 40th game might be a curious tool for Collingwood ahead of their Queen's Birthday AFL blockbuster against Melbourne.

Monday will bring a season-defining clash for the two teams, with the Demons suddenly in strife and the Magpies determined to confirm their top-eight bona fides on a massive stage against the reigning premiers.

Young Collingwood defender Nathan Murphy and his teammates are well aware the league's best team will come out firing against them.

But amid all the hyberbole for potentially the game of the season, the emerging 'Pies know that it all comes back to themselves.

A case in point was last weekend, when Collingwood won by four points as Hawthorn stars Liam Shiels and Luke Breust played their 250th games ... and Cameron played his 40th.

That's not normally something even worth mentioning and Murphy chuckled as he explained the Collingwood pre-game meeting.

"The beauty of Fly (coach Craig McRae) and our coaches is we like to keep it about ourselves," Murphy said.

"For example, on the weekend, we knew Hawthorn had two players playing 250 games.

"We didn't want to get caught up in that, so we got around DC and started celebrating his 40th game.

"It softened the mood a bit - there were messages from some of the players and his girlfriend.

"At the same time, it made everyone aware that we're the most important people going into the game. We don't have to worry about them too much."

Instead, Collingwood are out to build on three straight wins.

By contast, Melbourne's winning streak is over with two losses - but that's not the worst of their problems.

Fullback Stephen May, one of Melbourne's most important players, will miss the game after a restaurant punch-on last weekend with teammate Jake Melksham.

Dirty linen also continues to be aired in the media about internal problems at the club during their tumultuous 2020-21 off-season, when premiership coach Simon Goodwin's future was on the line.

Murphy's 21st AFL game will probably feature his biggest crowd, with more than 80,000 expected for the game that doubles as the Big Freeze fundraiser for Neale Daniher's Fight MND campaign.

He played in last year's Anzac Day clash and the game against Carlton a fortnight ago featured 80,627 fans, so Murphy knows what is coming.

But again, it's all about how he and his teammates handle the occasion.

"This is shaping up to be the biggest one, so I'm bloody excited for that. 80,000 at the 'G and it's against Carlton and you're down by two points - you do hear and feel that a lot more than when it's 40,000," he said.

"I'm extremely lucky. I have two of the best leaders in the team and I'd say in the comp, Howey and Darc (Jeremy Howe and Darcy Moore).

"We sort of work as a three and we just end up smiling and just try to take it all in, because we don't know how much longer we have with it.

"But it's refreshing to know you can make a mistake, even with that sort of crowd, and it's all good."

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