Nathan Buckley has nothing but words of admiration for Scott Pendlebury.
In tonight’s Qualifying Final clash with Geelong at the MCG, the Collingwood captain runs out for his 300th AFL game. He’ll become just the third Magpie to do so.
Buckley has worked alongside the classy midfielder since he first arrived at the club via the 2005 draft and has seen his progression into the damaging player he is today.
“His brilliance shines through,” Buckley told SEN.com.au.
“He’s not just an accumulator, he does hurt with his possessions, and not just with ball in hand either. He’s always in the right place defensively.
“He always finds a way to impact, even in his poor games. The great standout attribute is that even his quieter games, he still contributes significantly, because he’s not one-dimensional.”
Pendlebury has been one of the most consistent performers the game has seen throughout his 14-year career to date. Much of that comes from his unparalleled footy intellect
“I’m pretty sure that there are guys who have played on him who are stronger than him, faster than him, fitter than him, there are guys that might beat him in a one-on-one contest periodically, but there are very few that have the game sense and smarts that he has,” Buckley added.
“He can literally out-think the opposition. And that’s in the moment.
“Whilst I think it was innate and intrinsic in him as a young fella, he’s definitely honed that and it’s even stronger now than it has been.”
Buckley explained how the 31-year-old has always had an insatiable appetite for the information that would allow him to flourish as both a player and a person.
“He always had a natural leaning to understanding 'why this' or 'why that',” the Pies champion added.
“He was always inquisitive about it, in a quiet way. He wanted to know the ins and outs and fundamentals so he could perform and be better.
“He always carried himself with that. He was very aware, very observant, always asking the questions that he needed to ask, without being really overt, because he was a quiet character.”
Apart from his questionable choice in footwear - “The Birkenstocks are big on his agenda. His fashion sense is not the best” - Pendlebury pretty much has an unblemished record when it comes to life and football.
His class, poise and skill are regularly the topics of conversation but one quality that is often overlooked in typical Pendlebury discussions is his underrated fortitude.
Buckley continued: “When you take that moment to step back and look at it, his CV is amazing.
“The longevity is just another feather in the cap.
“The one thing that isn’t as prevalently spoken about is his genuine toughness.
“His capacity to carry injury and his ability and top-end professionalism to be able to buffer injury, because they (injuries) are still going to come.
“You can’t rack up the number of games he has without doing that.”
Tony Shaw is the games record holder at Collingwood with 313 ahead of Gordon Coventry (306). At 31, Pendlebury is poised to move above the iconic Magpies pair next year.
But not before he takes on the Cats on the big stage in a Friday night MCG final.