Nathan Buckley the Collingwood player wore such a look of intensity on his face that it did appear his life depended on the result of an AFL match.
Buckley won Collingwood’s best and fairest award six times, and now as coach he demands high-intensity performances on game days and at training from his men.
His fellow Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan is cut from a different cloth in terms of personality.
But don’t be fooled by appearances, Buckley said on Tuesday.
Don’t mistake the casual body language for a lack of competitive spirit.
Swan was held to 16 disposals in last week’s round-two clash against Sydney at ANZ Stadium. It was the midfielder’s lowest tally of possessions in a game since 2008.
Champion Data figures show Swan was in Collingwood’s forward line for 40 per cent of the clash with Sydney.
Buckley denies the 2011 Brownlow Medallist is troubled by a groin problem and says the 30-year-old’s pre-season was interrupted by wrist injuries, which has meant he hasn’t hit the new season at full pace.
“You’ll see a sharp spike in what Swannie produces this week and we’re looking forward to seeing that,” Buckley said.
“He’s a proud footballer.
“He’s been able to get a lot of aerobic work in. That burst from the packs which we’ve come to know from him, that’s on its way back.
“He’s well and truly due to find that connection with that strong running that we like to see.”
TV footage from round one shows Swan wince in pain after kicking the ball, but Buckley says the triple best and fairest winner is not having leg troubles.
“He’s had five or six really solid weeks on the track so he hasn’t really had anything that has concerned him there,” Buckley said.
“When you are a champion player in the game, there’s a lot of scrutiny that follows it.
“Swannie has great pride in his performance.
“Don’t be fooled by his (easygoing) facade.
“There’s a real competitor under there and we’ll see it.”
Buckley said he was confident skipper Scott Pendlebury would be fit for Saturday night’s game against Geelong at the MCG, despite Pendlebury not training with the main group on Tuesday.
Pendlebury had a scan on Monday for a sore ankle.
Lachlan Keeffe is tipped to be recalled for injured tall defender Nathan Brown.
“The likelihood is that we’ll take in an extra tall for support down there,” Buckley said.
“They’ve got the three big fellows, the two ruckmen and Mark Blicavs, who has been playing in all positions, as well as Tom Hawkins.”
Ben Sinclair’s hamstring complaint puts half-forward Alex Fasolo, who has been trialled in defence at VFL level, in the frame for a senior recall against the Cats.