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John Noble reflects on 2023 Grand Final heartbreak ahead of AFL-first milestone


Collingwood defender John Noble has spoke on the heartbreak of missing out on winning the 2023 Grand Final with his teammates last September.

Noble played every regular season game as Collingwood finished atop the ladder but was dropped on the eve of finals and didn’t feature in September as the Pies went on to lift the cup against Brisbane.

The 27-year-old even played 83 consecutive games under Craig McRae before being dropped, often performing as one of Collingwood’s most consistent contributors.

Noble admits that his axing will be something he’ll probably never get over despite being glad on the day that his teammates and club achieved the ultimate glory.

“Yeah, it's a tough one,” Noble told SEN SA The Run Home.

“It's a topic that still brings back raw emotion. It was a hard time to take news like that.

“Obviously, it was awesome to see the club and my teammates get the ultimate success.

“I've said it before, it's something that I think that I've contributed heavily towards.

“Not being there on the day or through the finals was tough.

“Fly (Craig McRae)told me in his office, and it obviously didn't go my way. It was really emotional.

“I don't think it's something that I'll ever get over. Exactly, (unless I win this year).”

Noble isn’t sure exactly who he was overlooked for in the 2023 finals campaign but he says he’s got to work on moving on past the brutal call to play seven games in 2024 already.

“I'm not too sure to be honest (who was picked ahead of me),” Noble said.

“I think that'll always stay with the coaches and their decision to go down the path that they chose to go down.

“It's last year and we're in Round 10 this year, so we’re moving on past it.

“At the end of the day, it didn't go my way. We got the job done and that's the main thing you're playing.”

After playing as the sub in Opening Round, Noble returned to the starting 22 for Collingwood’s Round 3 and has held his spot since, with the Pies five wins, one draw and zero losses with the halfback in the side this year.

He now plays his 100th career game against Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday, in doing so becoming the first mid-season draftee to reach the milestone.

“Yeah, definitely,” Noble said.

“My pathway to the AFL was a little bit unique in the sense of not getting picked up as an 18-year-old.

“Having to fight tooth and nail in different aspects of my footy career and to not only be drafted but like you said … if you told me seven years ago that I’d be playing my 100th game of AFL footy, I probably wouldn’t believe you.

“It's been a surreal experience. It's been an amazing journey.

“I'm just so thankful to be in the position that I'm in.”

The bounce for Saturday’s game at the ‘G between the Pies and Crows is set for 1:45 pm (AEST).

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