AFL grand final: Magpies pair Billy Frampton, John Noble ready to replace Dan McStay

Collingwood veteran Scott Pendlebury says the Magpies’ potential Dan McStay replacements are in the “right mindset” to perform if called upon for the grand final.

Defensive pair John Noble (23 games) and Billy Frampton (15) were both forced out of the side ahead of the first final, but Pendlebury says they have maintained a high training standard and will be ready despite no opportunity to press their case in the VFL.

It comes as vice-captain Taylor Adams trained for only 30 minutes on Tuesday during the Magpies’ open session as he attempts to overcome a hamstring injury that kept him out of the preliminary final.

Adams will be strenuously tested on Thursday, with Pendlebury echoing coach Craig McRae’s comments that the decision on his fitness will come down to the final minutes.

“It’s probably too early to worry about it for a lot of us … just let him keep getting after it and keep attacking it, and then between the coaches and the medical staff who have been amazing for the club, they’ll make the right call for the group,” he said.

Pendlebury was reluctant to borrow McRae’s cricket analogy to describe how Noble and Frampton were placed ahead of Thursday night’s selection but ended up caving in to a sport he has little time for to describe his trust in the duo.

Either could move into defence, with Jeremy Howe potentially thrown forward to fill the void left by McStay, who suffered a serious MCL strain in the third quarter of the preliminary final win.

“I think those guys are in the right mindset with just how they’ve been training. Our VFL side got knocked out a number of weeks ago, and the training standard of those guys has been first class, so they’ve prepared really well,” Pendlebury said.

“I’m not a big cricket person, but if you’ve been standing in the slips waiting for something to come through, there’s obviously a spot now, and those guys have been preparing as hard as it might be with no chance in front of them.

“Now the chance is here, so whichever way they go, guys will be ready to step up and play.”

Pendlebury said he felt “extremely sorry” for McStay, who impressed with 20 goals amid a first season at Collingwood marred by injuries.

“(McStay) has already spoke to a lot of us and just said, ‘If you need anything for the week’ – he’s such a good teammate that he’s put the focus straight back onto us and not on him, and you feel extremely sorry for him,” he said.

Pendlebury said he and his teammates were keen to enjoy the week after “absolutely hating” looking on at this time last year following the one-point loss to Sydney in the penultimate game.

“For me, it’s turned to being able to share this with my kids and my family. Last time (in 2018), my son Jax was about 15 months old, so he wouldn’t have remembered a hell of a lot, but this time he will and my daughter Darcy will be able to enjoy the week,’ he said.

“We had breakfast in here (on Sunday) and it’s just awesome to see so many families and all the kids running around.”

Entering the grand final off another superb season at 35 years old, Pendlebury said he had senior teammates from early in his career to thank for his longevity.

“Paul Licuria, Nathan Buckley, Scott Burns … when I was 18, 19, just being an inquisitive kid and asking questions … a lot of those guys said from 26, 27 onwards, if they had their time again, they would have put more time into their recovery,” he said.

“They said it would pay you back in spades when you get older, and I feel like I’m reaping the rewards of what I did from 18, 19, 20 of just being big about looking after my body.

“Some days you feel 40 out there … I’m nearly 40 anyway … but some days you get through. I’m certainly fortunate to be still doing what I love at 35 and being physically and mentally fresh.”

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