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Mates Voss, McRae start coaching rivalry

The AFL’s oldest rivalry will become the battle of Bourbon St when Michael Voss and Craig McRae coach against each other for the first time.

A massive crowd is tipped for Sunday when Voss’s Carlton and McRae’s Collingwood clash at the MCG.

The resurgent Blues are flying with an 8-2 record and the Magpies have impressed as well under McRae in his debut season as a senior coach, upsetting Fremantle last weekend for a 5-5 opening.

Voss and McRae were also teammates during Brisbane’s 2001-03 premiership three-peat, which fellow Lion Simon Black pointed out this week with an outstanding social media post.

Black dug up a photo of the pair showing off their chests in garish fancy dress – and McRae sporting a very dirty ‘tache – during a 2003 end-of-season trip at Bourbon St in New Orleans.

“I thought it wasn’t a bad photo – I have a conversation with Simon Black to be had after this,” Voss said on Thursday.

“Craig, I can’t speak highly enough of (him). He’s certainly earning his stripes as a coach … I’m extremely proud of him.

“It’s fair to say we’re both keen for a win.

“We had some good times, but clearly we have different hats on now.”

Voss said Carlton would embrace the rivalry and the big occasion, with the game potentially attracting 80,000 fans.

The former Lions captain is well aware of what a blockbuster clash against the Magpies means, having beaten them in the 2002 and ’03 grand finals.

But this season, Voss said McRae has them embracing imperfection as they rise above expectations.

“There’s some good rivalry. I have one of my good mates coaching the opposition as well, which just adds another layer,” he said.

“Just personally, I’ve had some clashes against Collingwood in some very, very big games, so we understand what they bring.

“They’re certainly not afraid of being able to make mistakes and take the game on when they need to, so he’s certainly instilled that within the group.”

Carlton overcame a big challenge from Sydney to win a cracking match last week and Voss said it underlined their need to be more consistent during games, but he cannot fault his players’ work rate.

“We still have some things that we need to be able to address,” he said.

“But I’m also conscious that we’re not continually trying to lift the rug and look for more things, when really how we’ve gotten here is go after our brand and go after what ‘us’ looks like.

“How do we just play like that for longer? … But I can’t fault the players at the same time, how we’re turning and how we’re playing.”

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