Published by Ben Waterworth 14 September 2018 on foxsports.com.au
GIANTS forward Matt de Boer has a simple message for vociferous Collingwood fans planning to attend Saturday night’s semi-final at the MCG: “Bring it on.”
A hostile sea of black and white supporters will descend on the MCG for the Magpies’ sudden-death clash with the GWS Giants, which is expected to draw in excess of 70,000 fans.
But de Boer and his side plan to thrive off the heavy fan ratio.
“Bring it on, the boys are pumped,” de Boer told foxfooty.com.au.
“We’re really looking forward to a hostile crowd at the MCG, which is where you want to be in September naturally.”
Giants defender Matt Buntine said facing a big club like Collingwood at a packed MCG in September is “what you play football for”.
“We’re fully aware there’ll be a fair bit of black and white there and not so much orange, but that’s all part of it in finals and what we have to deal with,” Buntine said.
“We’re really excited. We know it’s going to be a tough contest but we’ll take it on.”
The anticipated massive discrepancy between fans is something the Giants have already experienced.
It was only just under 12 months ago that the Giants faced Richmond in a preliminary final in front of nearly 95,000 people. Most of them had a Tigers allegiance, leading to one of the most one-sided finals crowds in AFL history.
The Giants only trailed by one point at half-time before the Tigers kicked away in the third quarter to eliminate the Giants in a preliminary final for the second consecutive season.
De Boer said his side knows what to expect.
“We’ll take away a lot from playing in the prelim last year against a hostile Richmond crowd,” he said.
“Hopefully we get a few GWS supporters infiltrate the crowd and a few non-Collingwood supporters getting around us as well.”
Several former Giants will be taking on their old club this weekend, with Adam Treloar, Taylor Adams and Will Hoskin-Elliott all now integral members of Collingwood’s best 22.
But Buntine said the prospect of reaching a preliminary final outweighed extracting revenge on the trio — although he was expecting some big hits when they were going for the ball.
“They were great people and players of our club and they’ve gone on to play so well at Collingwood, which is great to see,” Buntine said.
“You’ll probably go that one per cent harder when you know that Tay Adams or ‘Addsy’ (Treloar) or Will are in the area, but the motivation of a semi-final win trumps.”
De Boer said the bye weekend between Round 23 and the club’s elimination final against Sydney had “done the boys the world of good”, citing the similar impact it had on the Western Bulldogs in 2016 before going on to win the flag.
“It’s been a really long year, particularly for a few shouldering the load, so it’s been a really good break there,” de Boer said.
“From there, the belief in the group is really quite profound. We’ve got the capabilities and that is underpinned by our hard work that we’ve been chipping away at all year.
“We’ve really improved the defensive part of our game and we know the offence will flow secondary to that.”