Hawthorn have qualified for the finals and Collingwood haven’t yet.
And that could work in Collingwood’s favour in Friday night’s final-round clash, Magpies’ captain Scott Pendlebury says.
While Hawthorn are second on the ladder and talking up the need for a tough battle to prepare them for September, the injury-hit Magpies have a lot on the line and need to win to keep their AFL top-eight hopes alive.
Collingwood (44 points) would also need eighth-placed Richmond (44 points) to lose to top side Sydney on Saturday.
“I can’t speak for Hawthorn but I know personally they are tough games to play because you’re projecting forward,” Pendlebury told reporters on Thursday.
“The last thing anyone wants is to see a Hawthorn player go down tomorrow night.
“It is in your mind and you don’t want that to happen because you’ve worked hard all year to get into finals.
“They’re in a position now where I think they’re locked into second or third regardless of what happens.”
Pendlebury recalled his own experience in 2011 when the Magpies were assured of top spot going into the final round, before losing to second-placed Geelong by 96 points.
“After that game, there wasn’t like a real disappointment feeling,” Pendlebury said.
“It was like we just got one out of the way.
“No one’s injured, quick medical check, yeah we’re sweet. Let’s move on to next week.
“Looking back, it probably wasn’t the right way to approach that game.”
The two sides met again a month later in the grand final, which Geelong won to deny Collingwood consecutive flags.
Collingwood’s large injury list grew last week when Dane Swan, Clinton Young and Brent Macaffer broke down during the Magpies’ win over Greater Western Sydney.
Pendlebury says the club’s next tier of players has performed admirably.
“The young guys, they’ve been great,” Pendlebury said.
“We’ve had great role models almost in the side we’re playing this week.
“Hawthorn have lost a lot of players throughout the year and they just replace them really well.”
Pendlebury and his side watched the second half of last week’s Hawthorn-Geelong game live on TV as the Hawks came from behind in a dominant performance.
“Hawthorn looked invincible,” Pendlebury said.