AFL Rd 12 - Melbourne v Collingwood
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 15: The Magpies react after the loss of the round 12 AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Collingwood Magpies at The Gabba on August 15, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Former Collingwood coach and AFL great Nathan Buckley has opened up on the effects of staffing cuts at the Magpies in 2020 following the soft cap reductions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the financial strain the pandemic has placed on the AFL, clubs were required to slash their budgets for required personnel early into 2020, seeing medical staff and members of each club's football department placed without employment throughout the unprecedented period.

Speaking on SEN, Buckley felt the loss of those internally at the club greatly affected the side's internal atmosphere.

"The dynamic is as important as the mechanic," Buckley said.

"Cause sometimes you might have someone with a particular skillset around a particular aspect of the game.

"But largely it's around relationships and respected comfort, some players, they're wedded to their line coach or to a personality that makes them feel safe, makes them feel valued and that just has them hitting the field with confidence and belief.

"You don't really know until you've lost it."

The Brownlow medallist said the club ultimately lost "a third of our staff" during the 2020 season as financial issues caused clubs to cut down staffing numbers significantly around the league.

"When we lost that, we lost diversity and we lost differences of opinion and ways of being," Buckley said.

The ex-coach highlighted the loss of a female masseur as a moment that personally impacted not only himself but a few players as well.

"(She) was really important for me because I had conversations with her that I wouldn't have with anyone else in the environment," Buckley said.

"She had the hearts and minds of two or three of our players, who just saw the world a little bit different, and I reckon she settled them."

"We lost her and I reckon she had an impact on our on-field performance and our club environment and our ecosystem."

"That's not even talking about a senior coach."

AFL 1st Semi Final - Geelong v Collingwood
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 10: Jaidyn Stephenson of the Magpies look dejected after the AFL First Semi Final match between the Geelong Cats and the Collingwood Magpies at The Gabba on October 10, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The 49-year-old believes having a strong internal group within a club should be highly valued toward achieving success.

"You can't underestimate when you get things right, don't take it for granted, value those people and the contribution they make," Buckley said.

"Trying to get the mix of people together to get ultimate performance is more an art than a science and it does have an impact."

"When people leave or when people come in it does have an impact because we all want to be part of a group that does something special and that's what you're working towards".

Buckley departed Collingwood after 218 games as senior coach before stepping down from the role last year. The six-time Copelan Trophy winner led his side to the 2018 grand final and claimed Coach of the Year that same season.