MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 07: Magpies head coach Craig McRae talks to his players during the round eight AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Collingwood Magpies at Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 07, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Collingwood head coach Craig McRae and the club's most-capped player Scott Pendlebury have both strengthened their ties to the Pies, inking individual extensions to remain at Olympic Park.

Though contracted until the cessation of the 2024 season, McRae's influence over a humming playing group has been rewarded, with club and coach agreeing on a two-year extension, set to conclude at the close of 2026.

Since taking the reins ahead of last season, McRae has earned the love and respect of the footballing world, encouraging an exciting brand from his uninhibited and cohesive playing group to forge a 27-8 win-loss record.

Speaking by way of an official club statement, released on Wednesday morning, McRae stressed that while it was an honour to lead his current group, the job still lay ahead of of the collective.

“Leading this team and being a part of this great Club is something I am incredibly grateful for and I look forward to continuing on this journey at Collingwood,” McRae said.

“In my 16 years of coaching, I haven't seen a group quite like this one – there is an incredible fight and real belief, but above all, there is a genuine support and care for each other.

Craig McRae and Josh Daicos during the 2022 AFL Round 1 match between St Kilda and Collingwood (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

“I wanted to acknowledge the Magpie Army who show their support week in, week out and we look forward to building on that connection with our passionate Members and fans over the coming years.

“I want to extend my thanks to the whole football department who all work tirelessly to make our side better.

“It is not lost on me that I have a key role to play at this Club but so too does every player and member of staff. We are committed to getting better together.”

For Pendlebury, the opportunity to become just the sixth V/AFL footballer - behind Brent Harvey, Michael Tuck, Shaun Burgoyne, Kevin Bartlett and Dustin Fletcher - to breach the marathon 400-game mark was made possible upon signing a one-year extension.

Collingwood's narrow King's Birthday defeat acted Pendlebury's 370th AFL appearances, seeing the six-time All-Australian and owner of five Copeland Trophies sit outright 11th for most appearances in competition history.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 25: Scott Pendlebury of the Magpies celebrates during the 2018 AFL round 10 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on May 25, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

 

Should the former skipper feature in each of the Pies' 10 remaining home-and-away fixtures before finals, Pendlebury would move up to outright seventh on the catalogue of champions, eclipsing legends like Simon Madden, David Mundy, Craig Bradley and dual Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes along the way.

“I couldn't pass up the opportunity to be a part of this Club for one more year, at least,” Pendlebury said.

“I have completely bought into what ‘Fly' and the coaches have created, and I am loving it.

“Being a one-club player was one thing, something I am proud of, but my main motivation is to do all I can to assist the coaching group to develop our squad.

“As a collective, we are loving our football and have an appetite to just getting better and succeeding which really excites me.”

McRae and Pendlebury will earn a break as the ink dries on the respective deals, with the Pies scheduled for the bye during Round 14.

The ladder-leaders will resume their sprint to September when they face Matthew Nicks' rising Crows at the MCG on Sunday, June 25.