IT’S not often you see a player as influential as Scott Pendlebury spend 14 minutes in a single quarter on the bench.
But, with the game up for grabs in the third term of Collingwood’s clash with St Kilda, that was how long the Magpies skipper sat on the interchange for, cooling his heels in a pivotal moment in the contest.
With only one handball for the entire quarter, many were speculating on the star midfielder’s fitness and whether an unreported injury was to blame for his waning impact on the match.
However, speaking after the game, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley denied that claim, saying the prolonged absence of his captain was simply “normal rotations”.
That drew the ire of some past stars, with former Geelong premiership captain Cameron Ling slamming the decision, labelling it “sports science gone mad”.
“You’ve got to have your captain and your superstar on the ground,” Ling told 3AW.
“If there wasn’t an injury to him, I can’t believe that he has sat 14 minutes on the bench in a game that was there to be won.
“You can’t have Scott Pendlebury sitting on the bench for 14 minutes in a quarter if the bloke is not injured. You’ve got to win the game. It’s ridiculous.”
St Kilda kicked four goals to two in the third quarter, extending its lead from six points at half-time to 22 points going into the final change.
It proved an unassailable lead, with the Magpies failing to bridge the gap despite a lift in intensity in the final minutes of the game, ultimately going down by 14 points.
Now with a 1-3 record for the season, Collingwood’s finals chances are fading by the week.
But, according to Buckley, that’s no fault of Pendlebury, who the coach believes needs greater support around him if he is to impact contests in his usually influential manner.
“Pendles probably wasn’t as sharp as he’s been in the first three rounds,” Buckley said.
“We put a lot of emphasis on our leaders and we ask a lot of them. But that’s not something they resolve from.
“If you’re going to be a leader in this caper, you’ve got to keep buttering up and keep backing up.
“But we could definitely do with greater support around them.”
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Originally published as ‘Ridiculous’: Why the Pies benched Pendles
SOURCE: newsnow sport