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'It was a little bit of a beat-up': Star Pie was never missing QF

Darcy Moore knew his hamstring injury wouldn't have kept him out of the qualifying final - AFL,Collingwood Magpies,Darcy Moore
Darcy Moore knew his hamstring injury wouldn't have kept him out of the qualifying final

DARCY Moore scoffed at the doomsayers.

After missing five games with his latest hamstring injury, Collingwood's star key defender had returned for the final round clash with Essendon but had failed to play out the game, completing just 66 per cent of it, after experiencing more hamstring tightness.

Given the 23-year-old's troubling hamstring history, gloomy predictions had his season being over and his career hitting another critical juncture.

We'd seen all this before – last year Moore was sidelined for the last seven weeks of the season, bereft of confidence in the muscle – and again it seemed he might miss another chance to play his first final.

The day after Moore's "tightness" episode against the Bombers, even his coach Nathan Buckley admitted he was "not confident at all" that Moore would play in the finals.

Moore finished the round 23 match on the bench. Picture: AFL Photos

The player himself was more comfortable than his coach. When scans failed to show any damage, it only confirmed what Moore already knew from experience.

"That (testing) is more for the doctors than it is for me. I've got pretty good awareness and I normally know what's going on. It showed pretty much exactly what I thought," Moore told AFL.com.au.

He said there was never a moment where he thought he'd miss the qualifying final against Geelong.

"No, absolutely not," Moore said ahead of the preliminary final against Greater Western Sydney at the MCG on Saturday.

"I had a really solid five-six-week training block towards the end of the season which really set me up. I finished the game a little bit early against Essendon with some tightness that was pretty regulation, and had a week to freshen up and (was) feeling really good before the Geelong game, and now I'm away.

"To be honest it was a little bit of a beat-up. To miss 10-15 minutes of footy was no big deal. I'm feeling really good."

In other positive hamstring news for the Magpies, wingman Tom Phillips received precautionary scans on Friday after feeling tight in his left hamstring but has been cleared to play. Phillips completed a short, light skills session on Monday. 

Meanwhile, matchwinner Jordan De Goey made a surprise appearance on the track after returning from Germany where he had consulted leading hamstring injury specialist Dr Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt. After completing some skills work, De Goey did some running away from the group. He remains highly unlikely to return, even if the Pies make the Grand Final.

 

De Goey could do a lot worse than gain inspiration from Moore, who didn't simply get through the Pies' first final but he performed strongly to collect 17 possessions and take nine marks, including six contested, the bulk of which came in an influential last quarter as Geelong came home hard.

"It was feeling really good. I had a great physical prep and a huge build-up to my first ever final, so it was exciting. Geelong are a great team and for the boys to come out and really stamp our authority on the game was awesome," he said.

"Down back we've got some great chemistry going, so to be a part of that was really good."

The 70-gamer feels infinitely more confident in his body now compared with this time last year when he was tormented by doubts.

"Obviously it's chalk and cheese, isn't it. (Last year) I wasn't really able to get physically to the level to play regularly so it was a constant uphill battle. It obviously wasn't right," he said.

"Now I'm feeling great, feeling really fresh. We had a week off two weeks ago and another one last week. It's as good for the mind as it is for the body to have a week to just chill out, a lighter training load and just really recover and make sure we're feeling really relaxed. Now we can just attack this week and we're feeling really excited about it."

Moore appears the perfect match-up for Coleman medallist Jeremy Cameron.

The Pies badly missed Moore when the team met in at Giants Stadium in round 18 when Cameron bagged six goals.

The athletic, pacy, high-marking pair have never played each other. It looms as a mouth-watering, and potentially game defining, contest.

"We don't defend as a one-on-one backline so you're never really stuck on an island with guys like Jordan Roughead and Jeremy Howe, and Tom Langdon earlier in the year, coming across to support. We really hang our hat on that," said Moore, who insists he hasn't yet been assigned an opponent.

"Having said that, I love playing on good players and GWS will be no exception. They've got a serious strong forward line that's got a lot of dangerous targets and we'll be excited to play on them."

With De Goey sidelined, there is a chance the Pies could swing Jordan Roughead forward, but Moore wants him to remain in defence and believes injury-prone veteran Ben Reid could be the answer in attack after being sidelined for 11 weeks with calf and hamstring injuries.

Could Ben Reid be a shock inclusion for the Pies? Picture: AFL Photos

"With (Roughead) down there (in the backline) we've got a really great mix, but that's the beauty of our back six at the moment: we're super-versatile. I dare say he will play in defence," Moore said.

"Ben Reid's really knocking the door down, he's played some great footy this year and managed the last month to have a really good training block. He had a really good session last Friday night so he's absolutely chomping at the bit to put his hand up to get a game.

"(His conditioning is) great. He's definitely the toughest bloke to play on at training. He's super-strong and super-mobile for a big guy and he marks it really well. So he's in a really great position to come in and have an impact. Fingers crossed that happens for him."