Andrew McGrath during the round seven match between Essendon and Collingwood at the MCG, April 25, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

ESSENDON vice-captain Andrew McGrath has rejected suggestions Collingwood has lost some of its late-game aura following a narrow loss to Gold Coast.

Since Craig McRae took over as coach in 2022, the Magpies have become the AFL's masters of closing out games and running down deficits.

When they hit the lead late in the last quarter against the Suns on Saturday, the result seemed a foregone conclusion.

But Gold Coast was able to grab back the momentum, going on to record a morale-boosting 11-point win against the reigning premiers.

The result prompted Brisbane legend Jonathan Brown to question whether Collingwood had lost its "aura" and insist there are problems in its premiership defence.


But McGrath, who will play his 150th match in Friday night's clash with the Magpies at the MCG, was having none of that talk after being on the end of some brutal losses against Collingwood during the past three seasons.

"They've done it to us a few times in the past (storm home late in games) and we know and respect how good a side they are," the former No.1 draft pick said on Thursday.

"They've been a great team for a long period of time and we're preparing for them at their absolute best.

"We know what strategies they do late in games, (but) it's one thing knowing and another thing trying to stop it and arrest it. We're prepared for that."


After Essendon and Collingwood played out a thrilling draw on Anzac Day, Friday's meeting shapes as an even more important blockbuster given how the rivals are placed.

The Bombers are also coming off a defeat last Saturday - a 45-point loss to Geelong - leaving them delicately positioned in fourth.

Although coach Brad Scott believes it is not an issue, Essendon is yet to beat a team currently sitting inside the top-eight this season.

McGrath insisted the Bombers had learned plenty from their loss against the Cats, particularly the third-quarter collapse that Scott labelled a "series of unfortunate events".

"A few calls didn't go our way, but that's footy and that happens. We weren't able to arrest the momentum," he said.

"Geelong, like Collingwood, are a great side - you give them too much time and space and they make you pay."

Andrew McGrath and Beau McCreery during the round six match between Collingwood and Essendon at the MCG, April 25, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

After just one AFL game this season - when he was used as a sub in round 11 - forgotten Essendon midfielder Dylan Shiel is primed to return after training with the main group on Thursday.

Star Collingwood winger Josh Daicos is in doubt due to a corked calf suffered against the Suns.

But there is better news for defensive enforcer Brayden Maynard (corked quad) who is set to face the Bombers.