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Coaching great's assessment of leading Collingwood candidate


Four-time premiership coach Leigh Matthews has described Hawthorn assistant Craig McRae as a “coach for the modern era”.

McRae has emerged as a leading candidate for the vacant Collingwood coaching position after former Adelaide coach and Sydney assistant Don Pyke reportedly withdrew from the race.

Matthews, who coached McRae during Brisbane’s historic premiership three-peat, says he has the right personality to fulfill the man management aspect of being a senior coach.

“He’s done his 15 years behind the scenes,” Matthews told Sportsday.

“The schoolteacher training is good training now for any kind of management or teaching type of role.

“He’s done his yards behind the scenes at Richmond and Hawthorn more recently.

“If you had've asked me when ‘Fly’ was in his mid-20s would Fly be a senior coach one day, I would have said probably not. There’s about half a dozen players I could name before that.

“But I think that’s the difference in the modern era because you’re such a different person than you are in your 20s.

“That type of personality seems to be more the type of personality that helps you be a good coach in this era, where a lot of player relationships are to be built. You’ve got to get your team of coaches working well around you.

“A lot of the things that make you an alpha male champion player are just things that are of no value – they’re almost negatives – when you become a senior coach.

“I think Fly is a coach of the modern era in his general personality.”

McRae was added to Hawthorn’s coaching staff for the 2021 season after previously working at Brisbane, the Magpies and Richmond.

The 47-year-old was named the AFLCA Assistant Coach of the Year and VFL Coach of the Year in 2019 after guiding the Tigers to a VFL premiership.


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