COLLINGWOOD captain Scott Pendlebury has defended under-fire coach Nathan Buckley over the decision to bench him for an extended period in the loss to St Kilda.
The midfielder's long stint on the sidelines during the third quarter of Sunday's 14-point loss drew criticism after the result handed the Magpies a 1-3 win loss record.
Geelong premiership captain Cameron Ling was particularly scathing on radio 3AW.
"Can I say if there wasn't an injury to Scott Pendlebury ... I can't believe that he's sat 14 minutes on the bench in the third quarter in a game that was there to be won," Ling said.
"That is unbelievable. The bloke's a star. Get him on the ground. You've got to have your captain and your superstar on the ground ... unless he is injured.
Pendlebury said his benching was circumstantial, rather than tactical.
"It wasn't coach-driven, or I wasn't dragged or anything," he told the Seven Network on Monday.
"It was just one of those unfortunate things that can happen in football.
"It was actually … I just happened to start the third quarter on the bench and for one reason or another - the rotations - we just couldn't get someone off in the first seven or eight minutes.
"The play was on the outer wing, so I just couldn't get on and I did a 10-12 minute stint like I normally do, come off, and then it's just one of those things."
The 13th-placed Magpies next meet Essendon in an Anzac Day blockbuster at the MCG on April 25.