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The personal texts McRae sent to his players and why he used John Farnham lyrics as inspiration


In a bid to prove to his players that his love and support remains unconditional, Collingwood coach Craig McRae sent each of his players personal text messages during their recent winless streak.

The Magpies entered their Round 2 clash with St Kilda having lost their first two fixtures and staring down the barrel of a 0-3 start to their premiership defence.

McRae was intent on avoiding a third straight loss so went about conjuring a message of support both before the game and after.

While the Pies were unable to clinch their first victory of 2024 on that occasion, ‘Fly’ wanted to ensure that his players knew where he stood.

“Before the game I said, ‘Regardless of what happens in this game, guys, I’ve got your back. I’ve got you, I’m going to be here for you, it’s unconditional’,” he said on SEN’s The Run Home.

“The game finishes and clearly we didn’t get the job done so on the board that’s all I wrote - ‘I’ve got ya’.

“We’ve been through a lot together, this group, and a lot of shared memories.

“Then when I was going home in the car I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to text each player individually a bit deeper - I’ve got ya, love hearts, I’m here for you’.

“Within about 10-15 minutes of texting everybody, everybody is texting me back at the same time. The level of unconditional love and support this group has got, man, there were some tears in the car.

“It was nice and I just wanted to make the players realise that the winning is pressuring and outcome-driven. The processes of the care, support, and all the layers it takes to be successful, they’re all still there.

“Under all adversity, things do start to tear, and we don’t need to tear ourselves apart. The unconditional support is still there and really strong.”

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As the Pies continued to chase their first win of 2024, McRae turned to John Farnham for inspiration.

It happened in the rooms at the Gabba before last Thursday night’s meeting with 2023 Grand Final combatants the Brisbane Lions and involved the lyrics to Farnham’s hit ‘You’re The Voice’.

“Before the game I played 30 seconds of John Farnham’s ‘You’re The Voice’,” McRae said.

“I let them hear it and in the song it says, ‘We’re not going to sit in silence, we’re not going to live with fear’. I highlighted those two sentences on the board.

“There was subtleness in the games prior that when things hadn’t quite worked for us there was a bit of silence. So I didn’t want to sit in silence.

“Then the part of not winning, there can be a heaviness, so playing with fear. Again, something we’ve done quite well in recent times is playing fearless and being prepared to fail or make mistakes.

“So I wanted to make sure the players had permission to let things go and play fearless. When things went against us, like in the second quarter, that we weren’t quiet because in most things in life if you go quiet you disconnect.

“I just wanted to make sure that didn’t happen.”

Clearly that line of messaging worked as the Maggies were too good for the Lions in Round 3 to get their campaign up and running.

This weekend, McRae will hope to inspire his Pies to two straight wins when they meet Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval to wrap up Gather Round on Sunday evening.


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