There’s a familiar look to Carlton’s crash-and-bash midfield that has Collingwood coach Craig McRae on edge ahead of the traditional rivals’ blockbuster AFL clash.
It has been the driving force behind the Blues’ rampaging 8-2 start to the season.
And it makes them a dangerous proposition at the MCG on Sunday in front of what will be a massive crowd, with tickets sold out more than 48 hours in advance.
“It clearly looks like they’re coached by Michael Voss, the way they’re playing,” McRae said of Carlton this week.
“It’s a really contested brand and they’re living on the edge a little bit too, so we’ll have to manage that.
“It’s a threat of theirs, no doubt, and contested ball and their clearance stuff is a strength, but I thought last week we really took a step forward in that department.”
McRae and Voss share a strong bond after starring in Brisbane’s 2001-03 premiership three-peat but will put niceties aside when they face off for the first time as coaches.
Both men are in their first seasons in charge of their respective clubs and have embraced one of the competition’s fiercest rivalries this week.
A finals-like atmosphere is assured.
The Blues have lost Matthew Kennedy to a corked thigh but skipper Patrick Cripps and offsiders George Hewett and Sam Walsh present a huge challenge for Collingwood’s on-ballers.
McRae was disappointed with the Magpies’ effort around the contest in a round-nine loss to the Bulldogs but felt the likes of Jack Crisp, Jordan De Goey and Taylor Adams lifted the standard in last week’s upset of Fremantle.
That result improved Collingwood’s record to 5-5 and put them within touching distance of the top eight.
“We wanted to reset ourselves and show great effort and spirit like we’ve shown for most of the season,” McRae said.
“We walked away with great belief in the way we go about it and we’ll need to bring all of that this week.
“I’m not sure if it’s a turning point. It’s just a revisit and realign with who we are as a team and what we want to stand for.
“When we bring great effort and energy we’ve been in most games.”
In-form Carlton spearhead Charlie Curnow has booted multiple goals in his last six outings, including a match-winning bag of half-a-dozen in last week’s win over Sydney.
The key forward faces a key match-up with Magpies defender Darcy Moore.
“I was rapt with Darcy last week,” McRae said.
“We’ve had some conversations the last few weeks about his starting position and how he goes about it.
“He’s a great leader, he leads from the front, and ideally he plays like he did last week.”