EXCLUSIVE: COLLINGWOOD is plotting a pathway for Nathan Buckley in a future take-over bid of Mick Malthouse by offering him the VFL coaching position next season.
Buckley is expected to tell North Melbourne today that he is not interested in its coaching position which keeps his former club in pole position for his services.
But Football Nation understands the decision has caused some angst from another of the clubs’ favourite sons – current Magpies VFL coach Gavin Brown – whose two-year deal expires at the end of the season.
It is understood the Magpies offered a two-year deal to Buckley on Monday to coach their VFL team with guarantees of taking over the senior position from Malthouse within or after the two year period.
Magpies football manager Geoff Walsh refused to deny the club offered the VFL role to Buckley.
“I’m not going to fall for any of the scuttlebutt that’s going on,” Walsh said.
“All I’m saying is that he’s (Brown) in the middle of a two year deal at the moment.”
Al l coaches in the VFL are placed on two-year deals.
Brown, who was forced to handball the captaincy over to Buckley in 1998 on the field, may be forced to give up his VFL coaching position at the end of the season – which he has found a niche in over the past two seasons.
Brown did not return Football Nation’s calls with his team having the bye in the VFL and is understood to be on a break from the club over the weekend.
He said last week that he was enjoying his role as coach of the VFL team and hoped it would continue.
“At the moment, I’m really learning the caper and really enjoying what I’m doing and wherever it takes me, it takes me,” Brown said.
He, too, has future AFL coaching ambitions and could return into the coaches box with Malthouse in an assistants role, particularly if one of Brad Scott and Mark Neeld – both touted for interviews for the Richmond job – vacate.
The decision to appoint Buckley as their VFL coach would allow both Malthouse and Buckley to have space from each other during match days when both would play at the same time.
It would also give Buckley more experience at coaching his own team – which would be a Collingwood stand-alone team in the VFL – in preparation for an AFL role.
Jade Rawlings spent a season and a half as Coburg Tigers coach before stepping in as interim coach of Richmond this season.
Buckley admitted on 3AW yesterday that the ‘emotional pull’ was coming from Collingwood.
Brown has lifted the Magpies in the VFL from a barely competitive outfit in their first season as a stand-alone club, to a finals contender in their second season.
“I think it was always going to be tough in our first year and we knew that for a whole host of reasons,” he said.
“Our expectations this year is that we should be in every game and that’s what we’re doing.”
Malthouse said last week that it would be an “unsettling” period for Brown.
“It would be very unsettling for Gavin and that’s the reassurance I’ve got to give to a staff member — a good friend, a person who I have the highest regard for who has bled for this football club, who has captained this football club, who has played in a premiership, will do anything for this football club. So the most important thing is respect,” he said.
Buckley’s coaching future is still unknown, however, after agreeing to be interviewed by Richmond this week which put North Melbourne’s quest on the back-burner.
The Kangaroos will sought a list of candidates that includes former players David King and John Longmire.
By Brent Diamond
Up for grabs: Nathan Buckley has an ‘emotional pull’ to Collingwood