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Equal of 'Lethal': Bucks closes on contract extension

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NATHAN Buckley has pledged his future to Collingwood, with the rejuvenated coach closing in on a fresh contract extension.

Just 18 months after surviving an intense whole-club review and committing until the end of 2019, Buckley is eyeing a two-year extension that will keep him at the club until the end of 2021, AFL.com.au understands.  

The mooted deal would take his tenure to 10 seasons in charge of the Magpies, equalling Leigh Matthews' time at the helm.

While Buckley is yet to receive a formal offer, negotiations are set to ramp up before the start of the season.

And as the Pies board prepares to meet in preparation for the annual general meeting on Wednesday night, the coach hopes for a quick resolution.  

"I think 'Ned' (manager Craig Kelly) has had preliminary conversations (with the club)," Buckley told AFL.com.au.  

"I don't think there's any value in leaving it later in the year.

"I love the club, I still want to be there, and I get the sense they're pretty happy for me to continue in due course."  

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A contract renewal would cap a remarkable turnaround for Buckley after he steered the Pies to within a kick of last year's premiership, following a 13th-placed finish in 2017.

When asked if he could have imagined being on the verge of a new contract extension so soon after signing his last deal amid the tumultuous review, Buckley responded: "Why not?" 

"We might be in the same circumstance in 12 months, regardless of whether things go well or poorly," he said.

"In the end, it's only what's best for the footy club.

"Those things are really internal issues that will be dealt with internally and the importance of them otherwise is something that's generally a product of the external focus.

"There's plenty of people who have been re-contracted in our organisation in the last six months and will be in the next six months. If it's me, then I'll be one of them."

 

Having taken the reins in 2012, Buckley has coached 154 matches for a 55 per cent win rate.  

Should he become a 10-year coach – the same tenure as Leigh Matthews (1986-1995) – Buckley would sit behind only Jock McHale (1912-1949), Phonse Kyne (1950-1963) and Mick Malthouse (2000-2011) among the club's longest serving coaches.  

Fresh off a European holiday, Buckley believes spirits have been high in his return to the club as the Pies look to go one step further this season.  

"Our people love being around each other, that's half the battle," he said.

"Even getting together after the Grand Final was positive in many ways.

"The boys have had their breaks, come back and everyone seemed keen and really happy to be back into training and have attacked it with the appropriate level of energy and intensity."

Buckley and Melbourne counterpart Simon Goodwin are the only coaches in the competition set to fall out of contract at season's end.

The pair's sides will hold a scratch match at Olympic Park Oval on February 22 at 10am as they look for much-needed match simulation after a shortened pre-season.