Nathan Buckley doesn’t need to fuel the fire behind Mason Cox’s renewed confidence but the Collingwood coach admits his form surge ahead of the AFL’s finals could pose new problems for their rivals.
The American tall is best remembered for his starring role in the Magpies’ 2018 preliminary final upset of Richmond and he showed signs of that swagger as they qualified for a third-straight post-season campaign on Monday night.
Cox took seven marks – four of those contested – while five of his eight disposals led to Magpies scores in the 22-point win over a spirited Gold Coast.
He kicked two himself, the second an audacious running goal after out-marking Caleb Graham, taking off and bouncing before kicking the goal and celebrating to an almost-empty section of the Gabba grandstand.
Cox has now kicked two goals in each of his last three games.
His exploits up front were the icing on Jordan De Goey’s four-goal return from a 10-round injury lay-off, with the pair combining well to complement their already sturdy defence.
“I didn’t notice his confidence … he celebrated to the crowd, it’s round 17 you’d reckon he work it out by now,” Buckley quipped.
“Mason’s been coming, he’s been a little better over the last couple of weeks and is starting to look more likely and we saw that again tonight.
“If you’re more dangerous in more different places then you’re harder to defend and we haven’t been as hard to defend this year but maybe we will be (now).”
Their win, which was only sealed in the final five minutes, means they will finish between sixth and eighth and avoid a must-win scenario against Port Adelaide in the final round.
Adam Treloar (game-high 26 disposals) was also praised in his return from a hamstring injury while Travis Varcoe gave Collingwood life in his recall to the side.