IT WAS round five of last season when Darcy Moore realised what his teammates had already long thought of him – he was a Collingwood leader.
His backline buddy Jeremy Howe had blown his knee the previous week, out for the year.
"After he went down, I looked right and left and thought, 'I am one of the more experienced guys here now'," said Moore, officially part of the Magpies' leadership group in 2021 in his seventh season, to AFL.com.au.
"You have no choice, you have to grow up quickly, and slowly you take more responsibility for the team and have an interest in the younger players, and that is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job having been through it yourself.
"… you have it (leadership title) for a reason. I grew up a lifelong Collingwood supporter and to find myself in that group is a 'pinch me' moment for the 10-year-old me."
That Moore was able to deal with Howe's absence in 2020, and still earn his first All-Australian jacket was another source of personal pride.
"It wasn't just me, there were a number of players who had a strong reaction to the report, we were really concerned with what it said," Moore said.
"It is certainly not our experience and not something we could personally relate to, which was probably why it was so alarming to us, it was invisible to us, but now that a bit of time has gone by, it is just the first step of a long journey, to better educate, to be better, to do better.
"We don't have all the answers at all, but it is our responsibility to listen and put pressure on that the historical injustices don't happen again and for anyone to come into the club to be able to perform to the best of their ability regardless of their race. Looking back, it is the first step in a long process.
"We generate a lot of interest and at the end of the day it is a human rights issue, that is part of it, being able to speak up about it, to share your views and to reassure fans and members that we are doing a lot of work about caring about this."