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Nick Daicos, Howe fit for Pies’ AFL final

AFL wunderkind Nick Daicos has shrugged off back tightness concerns to prove his fitness for Collingwood’s qualifying final against Geelong.

Rising Star winner Daicos and defender Jeremy Howe both returned to main training on Thursday after missing Tuesday’s main session.

Daicos, 19, still had a relatively light outing, including leaving the track early, after tweaking his back in a weekend weights session.

Coach Craig McRae said both Daicos and Howe, along with returning vice-captain Taylor Adams, were ready for Saturday’s blockbuster at the MCG.

“Nick’s good to go. We’ve rested him the last couple of days and looked after him and he trained really well today,” he told reporters.

“He did enough to tick a box to say he’s going to be fit to go.

“(The injury is) nothing major. He just did a few too many arm curls and got a little bit sore in the back as a young fella does, but nothing untoward, so he’s good to go.

“If you watch him train, you get excited for what he does. I know Winx didn’t race in the mid-week meetings, so we’ll save him for the weekends.”

McRae said the back injury scare was a good reminder for the eager teen to hold himself back.

He hailed tall Nathan Kreuger, who has thrown himself back into selection contention after overcoming a seemingly season-ending shoulder injury to make a “rusty” return via the VFL on the weekend.

Meanwhile McRae stressed the Magpies needed dynamo Jordan De Goey “at his best” on the big stage.

“I said to our coaching staff when we first started our preparation last week for this game, ‘we’ve got to find five per cent somewhere,'” he said.

“Jordy’s a five per cent type of player.

“He can give us something if he brings his best, and we’ll be looking to put him in positions where he can.”

Thursday’s press conference came exactly a year on from McRae’s appointment.

He has overseen a brilliant turnaround from 17th to fourth, an achievement he said was set up by having 80 per cent of his squad complete a full pre-season.

“I’ve grown enormously in that time, as this playing group has too,” he said.

“In our wildest dreams this (finals) is something we wouldn’t have forecast.

“But belief comes through action and that’s what I’ve presented to the guys. We’re in good shape because of a number of things.

“… I never thought I would be in this position, no doubt.”

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