Collingwood coach Craig McRae insists Mason Cox has had a “terrific” season but has stopped short of guaranteeing the towering ruck-forward’s spot for the Magpies’ Round 21 clash with Hawthorn.
Cox was tactically subbed out of Friday night’s shock defeat to Carlton after he had just three possessions in the opening three quarters.
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The 32-year-old, who last week signed a new two-year contract to remain at Collingwood, appeared furious on the bench after being tapped out for Will Hoskin-Elliott.
Cox has booted 15 goals this season after kicking that many combined during the 2021 and 2022 campaigns when the American’s career hung in the balance.
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Mason Cox was disappointed to be subbed out of Collingwood’s defeat by Carlton. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP
“He’ll probably be the first to admit his last couple of weeks haven’t been his best for the year but if you’re looking at the whole season, he’s had a terrific season,” McRae said on Tuesday.
“He’s been really important to us. You look in isolation, the game in Adelaide was pretty wet, it was pretty hard for seven-foot blokes to take marks.
“I’m not sure where we’re going with this, I’m open to saying that, but we’ll see how the week progresses and try to get Mason playing the best version of himself so then it makes it even harder for us.”
Collingwood, who on Tuesday renewed their long-term commercial partnership with La Trobe Financial until its 20th anniversary in 2027, have one of the smallest injury-lists in the league.
Only fringe midfielder Fin Macrae (thumb) and uncapped defender Charlie Dean (knee) are currently ruled out of action.
Small forward Bobby Hill will return to face the Hawks at the MCG on Saturday after sitting out the clash with Carlton due to illness.
The Magpies, who sit atop the ladder by two games, are hesitant to make any drastic changes after just their third loss of the season.
“We’re really really deliberate that we want to improve ourselves, but also you’ve got to be really careful not to flip the thing upside down because the ladder position is feedback and the feedback’s been pretty good up until now,” McRae said.
“So how much do you want to flip the thing upside down to change something that you’re not sure if you’re going to get big benefit from?
“We’ll weigh it up, weigh up form, weigh for opposition, and that will all come into calculation.”
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