Craig McRae admits shedding a tear after touching text messages with players after St Kilda loss

Collingwood coach Craig McRae has revealed a touching message he shared with each and every one of his players after their AFL loss to St Kilda in Round 2.

The Magpies slumped to 0-3 when the Saints upset them by 15 points two weekends ago, having already gone down to GWS in Opening Round and Sydney in Round 1.

It was the beginnings of a premiership hangover that no one saw coming, after the Pies took all before them last year to lift the cup with an epic four-point win over Brisbane in last year’s decider.

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They got their season back on track last weekend with a relieving Easter Thursday win over the Lions in a grand final rematch to get the monkey off their back.

But through the ups and downs of the first month of the season, win or loss, McRae and his players’ unconditional love for each other remained unbroken.

Speaking to SEN on Tuesday night, he shared a perfect example of just that.

“Before the St Kilda game, I said, ‘Regardless of what happens in this game, guys, I’ve got your back. I’ve got you, I’m going to be here for you, and its unconditional’,” McRae said on radio.

“The game finishes and clearly we didn’t get the job done, so on the whiteboard that’s all I wrote: ‘I’ve got you’. We’ve been through a lot together, this group. A lot of shared memories.”

Craig McRae has always kept faith with his players. Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images

But it wasn’t until the 50-year-old got in his car to drive home that the emotions really hit him.

“When I was going home in the car, I thought, ‘I’m going to text each player, individually: ‘I’ve got you, love hearts, I’m here for you’,” McRae continued.

“And within about 10-15 minutes of texting everybody, everybody’s texting me back at the same time.

“And the level of unconditional support this group’s got — man, there were some tears in the car, I’ll give you the tip. It was nice.”

He said it was all about ensuring the players knew beyond doubt that winning and losing is fickle, but love and support is not.

“I just wanted to make the players realise that the winning is pressuring and outcome-driven; the processes of the care, support and all the layers it takes to be successful, they’re all still there,” McRae said.

“Understand (that) and we’ll get these little layers right. But under all adversity, things do start to tear, and we don’t need to tear ourselves apart.

“The unconditional support is still there and real strong.”

The Magpies play Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval in the last game of Gather Round this weekend, a game they will expect to win, despite a shock loss to the Hawks in Round 21 last year.


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