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'Pies can mix it with AFL's best: Burns

By Adam Cooper 29/07/2008 06:54:49 PM Comments (0)

Magpies skipper Scott Burns wants to dispel three perceptions about Collingwood that have clearly irked him this AFL season.

First, they caught Geelong on a rare bad night.

Second, sides look treacle-slow if they can't get the ball.

Third, and most importantly, Collingwood can still mix it with the best teams in the competition.

Burns was confident the Magpies could match the top contenders when playing their best, despite a position in the top four almost falling out of reach following defeats to North Melbourne and Essendon.

Ahead of a crunch game against Hawthorn on Friday night at the MCG, Burns said the Pies could play much better than they did last Saturday, when out-classed by eight goals.

"I feel pretty confident still," he said.

"I know that when we play at our best, and we do everything that Mick (Malthouse) and the coaching staff ask, that we play some pretty good football.

"As much as you want to maintain a certain level, there's going to be ebbs and flows.

"On the weekend was a perfect example, there were six games out of the eight where teams were beaten by sides below them on the table."

Collingwood's clear season highpoint this campaign was their 86-point trouncing of Geelong in round nine, which remains the reigning premier's only defeat this campaign.

But Burns said too much had been read into that result, as the Cats' performance was not reflective of their ability and probably inflated people's ideas about Collingwood.

"Any game you play where there's a 15-goal result, then one team hasn't really rocked up, hasn't been there," he said.

"A week after that game, but no one wanted to listen when they spoke about our tackling, we were down in a lot of (other) areas compared to the preliminary final that we lost (to Geelong in 2007).

"So we didn't do things as well as what we did six months earlier, but we won by nearly 15 goals."

From that night in May, Collingwood on a bad day look slow, illustrated by their inability to match the zippy Bombers.

But to Burns, speed is a "very boring argument".

"Every time when you pick up the paper or hear the radio and a team gets beaten and they've got a lack of leg speed," he said.

"'They look slow today'. Well you always look slow when the opposition's getting it.

"A lot of that run has to do with the half-backs running and the forwards coming up so it's not just the three or four players that are predominantly (contesting) a centre bounce ... if you're not winning the ball in close then you're always trailing."

Burns said Collingwood knew a lot more about what to expect from Hawthorn, who thrashed the Magpies by 65 points in round seven.

But he admitted stopping a side with a strong midfield and a dangerous pack of forwards would be a tough assignment.

Ruckman Josh Fraser trained today and could press to play his first game since round 12.

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