Caleb Poulter (right) fends off Trey Ruscoe at Collingwood training in April, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

COLLINGWOOD will blood one of its youngest cult heroes on Saturday, with mullet-wearing midfielder Caleb Poulter beating coach Nathan Buckley in a basketball contest to earn his AFL debut.

Drafted to the club with pick No.30 in last year's NAB AFL Draft, Poulter has excelled at VFL level with the Magpies and won 27 disposals in a reserves defeat to the Bombers last weekend.

He was told he would be debuting on Wednesday, hitting a shot on the club's basketball court – after Buckley had missed his – to confirm his place in the side and send his teammates into raptures.

Poulter will become the fifth Collingwood debutant through the season's first seven matches, joining Oliver Henry, Beau McCreery, Finlay Macrae and Jay Rantall in making his first senior appearance.

The big-bodied teenager shot into draft calculations following a strong junior season with Woodville-West Torrens last year, averaging 24.2 disposals, 6.8 tackles and more than a goal per game in the SANFL under-18s.

"You've come in and had a real crack," Buckley said.

"You've got a lot of talent. Your ball use is exceptional. But what you've shown is your capacity to play a role. We've tried you as a defensive mid, you've played wing, high half-back … but that wing role really suits you.

"You're bringing the heat when it's required, you're out-numbering when it's required and your discipline in the role is starting to come through. Just trust yourself, play your role and express yourself. We're looking forward to what you can bring."

Collingwood hasn't given up on its finals hopes this year ahead of its crucial round seven clash with Gold Coast, despite floundering in second-last on the ladder with a dismal 1-5 record on the season.