Steve Symonds, Brianna Davey and Ruby Schleicher ahead of Collingwood's clash with Geelong in round eight, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

COLLINGWOOD star Ruby Schleicher believes "it was the time" for coach Steve Symonds to depart after a successful but personally challenging tenure that included long stints away from family.

Symonds took the reins at the Magpies following a disastrous 2019 season in which the club was the league's worst-performing. 

In just a year, he transformed Collingwood into a contender, with the Pies making finals in each of the four seasons that followed.


But his duties as head coach entailed lengthy spells from family who remained in South Australia, a challenge that started taking a toll, Schleicher said on this week's episode of Tagged.

"I think it was the time for him, and he felt that. He's been away from his family for so long, his family are in South Australia – his wife and their two kids – that's so hard," Schleicher told co-host Sarah Hosking. 

"As coaches you lean on the club as well, but you probably don't get to lean on it as much as a player does, because as a player, you've got 30 sisters that you can be your complete selves around.

"It'd be hard to have that as a coach. We were his support network, but we were also his work, so you can imagine how hard that would've been."


Schleicher said the playing group was "sad" to find out Symonds and the club mutually agreed to part ways, with the coach becoming a father figure over his five-season reign.

"He genuinely thinks of us as his daughters. His motto has always been that if you've been coached by him, he's your coach for life, you can reach out to him whenever you need," Schleicher said. 

"No matter how down the track it is, or wherever he is, I'll go for a coffee with him. He's just the most caring bloke.

"He's been incredible – the way he brought us from a bottom-of-the-ladder team to finals. He's brought us to finals four of his five seasons after a wooden spoon. He's built this club massively."

In fresh episodes of Tagged every Tuesday, Schleicher and Hosking tackle everything from pop culture to locker-room gossip.

In this week's episode, they also discuss:

  • The prospect of renaming the AFLW best and fairest medal
  • When Mad Monday goes a bit haywire
  • Farewelling some iconic AFLW figures

You can watch Tagged every Tuesday on  and the AFLW and AFL Live Official apps, and listen to the podcast on all good podcast platforms on the same day.