Collingwood skipper Nick Maxwell has defended his team's leaders
COLLINGWOOD captain Nick Maxwell has defended the club's five-man leadership group and says the time is coming for the next group of leaders to shoulder more responsibility.
The Magpies' leadership group, which is smaller than most, also includes Luke Ball, Harry O'Brien, Dayne Beams and vice-captain Scott Pendlebury.
The club's senior players have been criticised following last Saturday night's loss to Port Adelaide, and Maxwell conceded the Magpies were not playing "anywhere near what we're capable of".
However, he said criticism of the leadership group was unwarranted.
"We haven't got a 10 or 12-man leadership group, we've only got five guys in our leadership group," Maxwell told SEN on Tuesday afternoon.
"We need to step that up, so we have put a lot of time into (Nathan) Brown, (Ben) Reid, (Steele) Sidebottom, (Jarryd) Blair and (Brent) Macaffer, all these guys coming through that are that next group of leaders.
"That's something that we are working on, but in the end I think our leaders have played good football."
Speaking on 3AW on Tuesday night, Buckley also defended the Magpies' leadership group.
"'Maxy' has been a fantastic leader, Pendlebury's a great player and developing his leadership and we've missed Dayne Beams," Buckley said.
"We got Luke Ball back, which was fantastic, and he's really only in his first four or five weeks of getting back into action. Harry O'Brien's been fantastic for us.
"So there's our leadership. They take ownership of their performance and the team's performance.
"I suppose the challenge of that is when you back up after a loss."
Maxwell said there were Collingwood players still adjusting to new roles under Buckley after playing a certain way for a long period under former coach Mick Malthouse.
He said a focus on tightening up in defence had stripped away the team's scoring capacity in recent weeks.
"If we go back to the Fremantle game (round seven), we can look at all the stats and see that we're getting scored against really heavily and that was something we wanted to change," Maxwell said.
"Since that game we've managed to turn that around and we're probably top four or five defensively.
"But having done that, we've let our offence get away from us and our ball use going forward was pretty poor on the weekend.
"Some of the personnel changes that we'll have over the coming weeks will hopefully help that as well."
Maxwell said Friday night's blockbuster against the Blues – and former coach Malthouse – had come at a good time for the Magpies.
"They're No.2 across the year for contested possession and they play very one-on-one, Mick Malthouse style footy," he said.
"So in the end it should come back to who wants it more.
"That's what we need this week … I think it's a great match-up."
Nathan Schmook is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter @AFL_Nathan