The Magpies are heading for the Grand Final in grand shape, considering the time of year.
It is one of the great paradoxes of sports that in order to get to the end of the season and play meaningful games, teams have to play well during the regular season games that set the stage.
That requirement often finds players injured at the worst possible time, but if they had play to preserve their fitness during the season, they might find themselves sitting out and watching finals.
Of the Magpies’ list, only Jeremy Howe offers anything resembling a question mark. Howe hurt his ankle in the third quarter of the preliminary final win over the Richmond Tigers, but he returned to the ground to finish out the match.
Collingwood General Manager of Football Geoff Walsh told the media, “The only player of note in terms of how he is tracking is Jeremy Howe, who came off with that ankle injury. He went back on and finished the game. He pulled up a bit sore but is tracking really well. His progression this week has been monitored by our medical and conditioning team and has been certainly satisfactory in terms of the steps he has taken and we would expect that there would be no issues there.”
Collingwood, perhaps on the strength of winning convincingly against the Tigers in the preliminary final, or possibly because they hold home ground, are 7.5-point favourites for the final match of the Toyota 2018 Premiership competition.
We will dispense with our typical rant about a lower-ranked team enjoying home ground, other than to mention that this is where we would usually insert it.
West Coast seems to be in good shape as well, so there will be no question marks and no “if onlys” associated with the game at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The only other injury issue for West Coast would be Luke Shuey, but he looks as of now to be a shoe-in.