SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 04: Nathan Buckley, coach of the Magpies, looks dejected after the round 20 AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Collingwood Magpies at Sydney Cricket Ground on August 4, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has spoken publicly for the first time since the club's trade exodus.

The Magpies last week parted with Adam Treloar, Jaidyn StephensonTom Phillips and Atu Bosenavulagi in a brutal list management period that has caused disharmony and backlash from the supporter base.

The departures of Treloar and Stephenson have been met with the most criticism, with the contracted pair expressing disappointment in the handling of their exits.

Speaking on SEN’s Whateley on Monday morning, Buckley admitted that the club drove those players out due to salary cap pressure.

“Yes, we had to (drive them out), we had to,” Buckley said.

“The conversations were pretty short and sharp and for a varying number of reasons – some inside of their control and some with absolutely nothing to do with those individuals.

“We needed to make those decisions and force those outcomes. There was a forced element to it, and it’s been on the cards for probably the last three or four years.

“We decided to keep the group together as much as possible and that required us to push back these cap issues – for right or for wrong – and there’s a lot of things that have come to pass in the last 12-24 months that have brought these decisions forward.

“We felt that this was the time that we needed to stop pushing out pain into the future and take it all in one gulp now.”

On Adam Treloar

“I can understand how Adam has perceived it that way (that the club wanted to push him out). As soon as we determined that that’s how it was going to go, I don’t think it was going to be pretty, we knew that.

“Adam is a heart and soul person. My personal relationship with him is important to me, we’re really close and it’s strained at the moment. The dust is yet to settle. Adam is a quality young man and personally I’ve got great respect for him. I like the way that he carries himself. I think we’ve supported him personally and professionally really well.

“This was a business decision, in my communication with him, it was determined it had to be me and it was often one-on-one. I think he had great respect for me and healthy respect for our relationship, not just the five or six years at Collingwood but his junior career. This is a break up, this is something that he was aware of 12 months ago that became more real now.

“It has been difficult for him, difficult for us as a football club, but it was a business decision unfortunately.”

Buckley said that he believes Treloar misunderstood their post-season conversation while also taking accountability for miscommunication.

“There’s clearly something I could’ve done better in those conversations with Adam. We spoke a couple of times immediately beyond the season.

“When I first spoke to Adam about the decision the football club had come to, it’s really hard. I had this experience 12 months ago. We tried to act on this in the last off-season, not specifically with Adam, but with the situation with our situation with the salary cap and squaring that up. I did a lot of that communicating with the players.

“With Adam it was clearly something I needed to address because the relationship we had. The leaders were aware of the list management decision soon after the season and it was done for them to provide genuine support and have a knowledge of what Adam and we were facing.

“There was one element of on-field specific feedback that I gave to Adam in the early stages immediately after the season that related to on-field connection. That came through reviews from the last couple of years, that wasn’t news to Ads. That was something he understood and potentially those things put together were perceived as your teammates don’t support you or want you at the football club.

“Something in my communication has failed for him to think that. I know entirely where that has come from. These were really hard conversations. I’m old enough and mature enough to know that in high pressure situations, in situations that involve the heart, unpredicted outcomes can occur because you can deliver information.

“This was always going to be hurtful, this was always going to be a shock, lead to cause distress because of the nature of it. I didn’t feel entirely great about it. We feel we’ve made these decisions for the betterment of the football club in the short, medium and long terms and we’ve had to be brutal in a professional sense with some of our players to square us up and be able to move into the future with a couple of hands tied behind our back.”

On Jaiydn Stephenson

“The general public may not be aware of how these things play out. The third parties here that are often not considered are the managers of the players. That was communicated to the concept of exploring a trade for Jaidyn, who had a couple of years to run on his contract.

“That concept was floated through our list management crew and his management. Jaidyn was aware in his exit that there was a possibility that we would explore that. The call that he gave to me was two weeks later in the middle of trade period and basically he wanted to confirm is that what I was looking for, is this what you want?

“I had to be clear to him this is where the football club needs to go and if you have an opportunity to go elsewhere, I would take it. Jaidyn called me, but he was aware of his situation through his management before that.”

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On the negative response from supporters

Buckley admitted he has never seen such an outraged response from fans during his time in the game.

“Probably not (have I experienced anything this strong), no. I’ve been through some situations with the football club as a player, as an assistant coach and as a coach. I love the place. I want to see it succeed.

“I’ve committed my life’s work in a professional sense to it. I’m hungry for success and for it to be a place that everyone is proud of. I understand that there are a lot of people that don’t feel that way at the moment.

“I can understand that. There’s a lot of things that we could have done better in the recent past and the last three or four weeks particularly, but we are where we are and the decisions were made consciously … it’s brutal, but we feel it was needed.”

He believes the club hasn't necessarily abandoned its 'side by side' motto in these decisions.

“I understand how we’ve opened ourselves up to that criticism.

“My view is, and this has challenged my perspective … we’re a very tight knit group. The last three seasons have shown our capacity to come together and support each other … while understanding that we need to challenge each other.

“We’ve done that relatively well. We’ve been relatively successful without getting the ultimate.”

On potentially damaging the team fabric

“Yes, I do worry about that. Because that’s critical.

“I’ve got no doubt that a lot of our people that wouldn’t be as aware of our situation off-field … we didn’t walk around talking about our bulging salary cap every day when we were going around our last three years.

“It’s a challenge that every club faces. We haven’t managed it quite as well as we would have liked. The players themselves have made sacrifices. They were aware. A lot of our senior players had money that was pushed back to facilitate what we needed to do and to keep within the rules.

“The issue for me is clearly coming back together. I’ve got no doubt that we can do that. This has been a year like no other. We felt fractured, and felt like we were off balance. That was every club in the competition and we were just doing our best to look after one another and to survive.

“We’ve kept the key people informed as much as we possibly can. I’m sure that we would all like this to have played out a little quieter, a little more under the surface, but we’ve ripped the bandaid off, the wounds are raw still, but they will heal and we will move forward from this.”

On salary cap pressure

"We tried to act on this 12 months ago in the last off-season, not specifically with Adam, but with our situation with the salary cup and squaring up (back-ended contracts).

"We wanted to play it quieter in the trade period. We didn't get a great result, let's be clear with that, but I don't know if you're going to get a better result if you come out and say 'we need to adjust our salary cap'.

"We tried to foolishly maintain some bargaining position on the trade table by shutting our mouths, and that's caused even more angst on the other side."

 

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