Daniel McStay is daring to dream of an AFL grand final against the Brisbane Lions as Collingwood teammates aim to give injured stalwart Taylor Adams a flag shot by winning through to the decider.
Key forward McStay joined the Magpies from Brisbane as an unrestricted free agent at the end of last year and is on a September collision path with his former club.
Collingwood and Brisbane will start favourites in their respective home preliminary finals against GWS and Carlton this week.
“There’s obviously a fair way to go but if that is the way it falls, what a great opportunity,” McStay told reporters on Sunday.
“I couldn’t have written it any better, to be honest. Let’s just hope that if it does fall that way we’re on the winning end.”
Despite a finger injury and frustrating setbacks in his recovery, which kept him sidelined him for three months, McStay’s first season at Collingwood has panned out well.
The 28-year-old returned in round 18 and has kicked 18 goals from 13 games, making his mark as a key piece in the Magpies’ forward-line puzzle.
“It’s been incredible,” McStay said.
“When I made the decision (to leave Brisbane) I didn’t know how good Collingwood were going to be because it was very early on – nearly before they went on that 11-game winning streak (last year).
“It’s just incredible to see how much the group has grown from then to now. I feel like they’ve got so much belief.”
Nick Daicos’ confirmed return from a knee injury in Friday night’s preliminary final clash with the Giants at the MCG will give Collingwood a further confidence boost.
But vice-captain Adams has been ruled out with a “very minor” hamstring strain and is a huge loss in the midfield.
The 29-year-old, whose finals series last year was ruined by a groin injury, will be racing the clock to be fit for the grand final, if the Magpies get through.
“These hamstrings get graded one, two and three and it’s even somewhere less than a one,” Collingwood head of high performance Jarrod Wade said.
“He’s got some soreness over the weekend but that’s all settled and he’s actually been able to start running this week, which is really quickly post injury, which is a really good sign.”
Defender Nathan Murphy said Adams’ positivity in the face of adversity has lifted the mood of the playing group.
“It’s obviously really disappointing but Tay’s been so positive about it,” Murphy told reporters on Sunday.
“That’s why he’s our vice-captain. He’s been awesome. He’s been in here this morning doing swimming and a bit of running as well.
“So whatever he can do to get back and hopefully we’ll get to the grand final and he’ll put his name up.”