Geelong legend turned Collingwood assistant coach Garry ‘Buddha’ Hocking says the Pies will use Saturday’s JLT Community Series clash against the Bulldogs to prepare for the Hawks in round one.
Collingwood will take on the Western Bulldogs at Moe’s Ted Summerton Reserve at 1.05pm on Saturday in a game that is expected to draw thousands of spectators to the region.
Hocking said the Pies had almost 40 fit players ready for selection ahead of the preseason clash and said some of their best players would don the black and white on Saturday.
“We want to play our best players. We want to show not only our opposition, but also our supporters, the Collingwood brand,” the former Port Adelaide coach said.
“Our list is pretty fit and we think that we can field a pretty strong side and that’s what people want to see when you take your team out to a region like the Latrobe Valley.”
Hocking joined the Pies in November last year after 12 months away coaching South Adelaide in the South Australian Football League.
Prior to that he coached Port Adelaide in 2014-2015 and in 2012 for four games following the stunning sacking of then-coach Matthew Primus.
Collingwood head into Saturday’s blockbuster following a 60-point thumping by Greater Western Sydney last Thursday.
“We took things out of the game last night that we didn’t like: there was a few intensity and effort-based issues that we as coaches identified that need improvement,” the AFL Hall of Famer said.
“It was a good experience for the younger guys, Brody Mihoceka – a young rookie who came on – there’s also Flynn Appleby and they’re guys we picked up in the draft, and Jaidyn Stevenson showed some good signs.
“Callum Brown was quite consistent throughout the night. He’s trained really well and had a good preseason and we think he’s going to push for selection in what we think is going to be a strong mid-field group.”
He said taking the footy to the regions was a good opportunity to refine and tweak a number of areas across the field ahead of the home and away season.
“We’ve got a really collaborative coaching group [at Collingwood] and a really hungry and thirsty playing group,” Hocking said.
“Going to any [AFL] club is a great opportunity but I guess there is a little bit more hype and possibly expectation around Collingwood to perform.
“I’ve only been out of the AFL for about 12 months but I’ve kept an eye on it and really enjoyed working alongside Bucks, Sando, Harvey and Justin Longmire.”
The Western Bulldogs head into the game full of charge following a 22-point win over the Hawks at Ballarat on Saturday.
“We’re looking to bounce back and we’re treating this game very seriously. It’s our final rehearsal before the Hawks in round one so we’re not coming down for a holiday,” Hocking said.
“We went to Ballarat last week and watched the game against Hawthorn and it looks like they’ve got their mojo back and they’ve got some really good players … it’s going to be a challenge.”
To purchase tickets for Saturday’s JLT Community Series game, visit afl.com.au/tickets/jlt-community-series.