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AFL great David King criticizes Collingwood senior players

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North Melbourne’s two-time premiership winner David King is one of the AFL’s most respected voices and when he speaks, people usually listen.

The Collingwood Football Club better listen up.

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The reigning premiers’ poor start added another chapter on Thursday night when St Kilda outplayed and outplayed the Pies in a 14.10 (94) to 12.7 (79) scoreline that ultimately flattered Collingwood.

That leaves Craig McRae’s men in a 0-3 hole and facing all sorts of unwanted history so soon after last year’s stirring Grand Final triumph over the Lions.

AFL great David King has some choice words for winless Collingwood

King was quick to assess this year’s team, suggesting Collingwood has lost the appetite to compete.

“It’s easy to see, isn’t it, that it doesn’t mean enough to the Pies players anymore,” King told SEN radio.

“It was the case in 2023, it was the case in 2022, every minute of every game the ball was as hot as hot and they were closing down the space and stopping the opposition from operating in real time and it was awesome to watch.

“But in many ways, the teams have defined exactly what they are doing and they are now comfortable with that. They take care of it.

“And I don’t know if that’s as big a win in 2024 as we’re talking about.”

King then went further, singling out some of the club’s best and most important players in his withering spray.

“I don’t know if it’s the same product anymore. Because I’ve seen so many players not really buy into an absolute ‘team,’” King said.

“And some of their best players. We’re not going to talk about also-rans because they don’t really lead the way.

“The guys leading the way, Darcy Moore, Nick Daicos, Scott Pendlebury, Jack Crisp – they’re all gone. They are all gone. Steele side bottom.

“There are so many high-end products that have just become six out of ten products this year.

“And it’s alarming, it’s shocking, I didn’t think this was going to happen.”

“There was no sign of that during pre-season. But they fell through the ground.

The last team to start 0-3 and win the premiership was North Melbourne in 1975, while the last to start 0-3 and even win a Grand Final place was also North a year later.

In the AFL’s modern era, only 2023 Geelong and now Collingwood have started 0-3 as reigning premiers, with the Cats finishing in 12th place last season.

On Thursday night, 12 of St Kilda’s 15 goals came from Magpie turnovers and Collingwood coach Craig McRae admitted the senior players were among the worst offenders of the night.

“Twelve goals is a big number,” he said. “You see the ones we can control, there are a lot of fundamental mistakes we make, from experienced players, that you wouldn’t expect.

“I think you can see the fundamental skills that are just sloppy, rusty, clunky, just free goals.”

Former St Kilda star Leigh Montagna was another to single out the senior Pies ahead of a trip to Brisbane to face the Lions next Thursday night in a Grand Final rematch.

“To be honest, some of their veteran senior players are just not quite the same,” Montagna told Fox Footy.

“Some of their veterans – who have been so good for them for so long – just didn’t come to the party to start the season.

“They don’t seem invested, that’s obvious… they don’t seem as tough as what we saw last year.”

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