Collingwood have made the first genuine selection shock of the 2023 AFL finals series.
In a bombshell call, coach Craig McRae has dropped dashing defender John Noble from the starting 22 that will take on Melbourne at the MCG in front of more than 90,000 fans on Thursday night.
It’s a staggering and heartbreaking decision for Noble who has not missed a game this year.
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In fact, Noble has had a run of 83 consecutive games, the seventh best ‘active streak’ in the AFL.
7NEWS football reporter Mitch Cleary said it had been “the toughest week” for Collingwood selectors.
“These were the scenes at training today … Noble was consoled by captain Darcy Moore before a long one-on-one chat with Nick Daicos,” Cleary said.
“(He) had been only one of five Magpies to play every game this season.”
The 26-year-old was solid in his last outing, too, picking up 21 disposals and five marks in Collingwood’s big win over Essendon.
Swingman Billy Frampton also cut a dejected figure after he was told he was not in the 22.
While it was unlikely Frampton would be picked for the final, the key-position player has managed 15 games this year after crossing from Adelaide at the end of last season.
Collingwood’s spiritual leader Brayden Maynard was also doing his best to make a visibly upset Frampton feel better as the players came to terms with the selection news.
Despite the predicted wet and cold conditions, the Pies are pushing ahead with the ruck-combination of Darcy Cameron and Mason Cox.
Meanwhile, Melbourne premiership forward Tom McDonald has been locked in to play his first game since May.
The 30-year-old has been restricted to six games this season after battling an ankle injury.
But McDonald, who missed Melbourne’s straight-sets exit from the finals last year, has managed to get his timing right this year.
His selection means Melbourne will go into the game with captain Max Gawn as their sole ruck, while Brodie Grundy will be watching on as his new club takes on his former team.
More to come ….
– With AAP