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Buckley refuses to deny reports of O’Brien rift

Mark Macgugan, with AAP  July 5, 2013 11:26 PM

Post-match: Pies Watch Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley's post-match press conference
AFL 2013 Rd 12 - Collingwood v Western Bulldogs

Harry O'Brien missed Friday night's clash with Carlton

COLLINGWOOD coach Nathan Buckley has not denied reports of a mid-week rift with Harry O'Brien, saying only that he wouldn't discuss the matter publicly.

O'Brien missed the Magpies' 41-point win over Carlton on Friday night with an ankle injury.

The dashing half-back was not at the MCG for the game, instead flying to Port Douglas for what Buckley described as some "R and R time".

It was reported on The Footy Show on Thursday night that the pair had clashed at a team meeting during the week, and that O'Brien had not been sighted at the club since.

"If there was [a problem], I'm not going to be talking about it publicly," Buckley said after Friday night's match. 

"I have conversations with players multiple times every day, and we don't feel the need to play it out in public. 

"So if there's an issue, I won't be talking about it."

Buckley reiterated that O'Brien had missed the game due to injury, and said the 26-year-old would be back in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon.

He said he expected O'Brien to be available for next week's clash with Adelaide.

Buckley said he had not been distracted by reports of the alleged spat.

"I've been really focused on the 22 players we had going in tonight," he said. 

"I think what it shows is, regardless of the 'who', when we get the 'how' right we're pretty good."

Before the match, O'Brien's teammate Dale Thomas, who is also out of action with an ankle injury, said he had no knowledge of any so-called rift between coach and player.

"It's a strange one. My Twitter was blowing up," Thomas told radio 3AW.

Thomas said he had asked the club's media department if he needed to be briefed on anything before he did media interviews on Friday and he was told 'no'.

"I think he (O'Brien) has been given time to go away and rest that ankle and just freshen up," Thomas said.

"I presume there were meetings," added Thomas, who has been doing injury rehabilitation work away from the main group in recent weeks.

"I doubt there was anything out of the ordinary (in the meetings)."