MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Magpies head coach Nathan Buckley watches the unusual ball grip of Jaidyn Stephenson of the Magpies before he kicks during a Collingwood Magpies AFL training session at the Holden Centre on September 25, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley addressed the Jaidyn Stephenson ban of 22 games, including 12 suspended and a $20,000 fine.

Speaking on SEN’s Whateley, Buckley said that his opinion of his young midfielder has only risen since the incident.

“He’s a good young man, Stepho,” Buckley said.

“My opinion of him and esteem of him has only risen in the last month the way he has handled this situation. It will set him in good stead, it will teach him and any others a pretty strong lesson. It will set him in good stead, it will teach him and any others a pretty strong lesson.”

Buckley added that he held no ill feelings towards Stephenson and trusts the 20-year simply made a bad mistake.

“I’m not angry with him. I can understand how (it happened), the way he describes it.

“Because he’s just an open book. The way he described the way his parents have brought him up, you’re better to bring it forward and face it now than to carry it because the repercussions will be much worse when you go down the track.

“That’s an amazing ideal, but geez, it’s bloody hard to make those decisions in the moment when you know that you are going to lose control of it and it could hurt you in the short term.

“(I’m in) amazement that you could actually make a decision like that. How do you get to the point where you can make a decision like that?

“But the way he described it makes sense to me. Sitting on the couch with a mate, he’s flicking a bet on, this, this and this, and then, ‘put me in for half of that, I’ll have a bit of that’.

“That sounds like what happened the first couple (of bets).

“But one thing I would say about the esteem I hold Jaidyn in, I’ve had some elements of pride around our football club in the last couple of years in particular with the way that we’ve carried ourselves. I can’t be prouder of our organisation and the way we’ve handled this situation.

“The fact that there were conversations that took place between Jaidyn and more senior members of the playing group. And that that precipitated a conversation that we need to address this and then to take the next step forward to the senior management and then to take the next step to go to the AFL.

“What greater integrity is there than to make those decisions as an organisation and the people within it?

“I’m extremely proud of the way the club has carried itself, and Jaidyn in particular, after making a couple of rookie, naïve mistakes and errors, that I think are just that.

“I don’t think there was any malice or any intent to undermine the integrity of the game at all.”

Buckley says he hoped the suspension would be less than it was, but understands the decison-making process the AFL went thought to get to where they were.

“The fact that it’s the harshest penalty handed down, I think is interesting to me, given the way that this came to the AFL,” he added.

“I understand that the penalty includes some form of deterrent and that you need to be strong with these things.

“I accept the penalty and I understand how some would think that it’s been contrived. My understanding there were some discussions, so that’s true in some sense.

“It’s hard for me to remove myself as football coach that wants the player back at some point. I was thinking a couple of games in home and away into the run to finals.

“I thought that 6-8 (weeks) would have been a fair whack for him, the fact that he’d come forward (and confessed).

“Simply for the fact that you’ve got a young fella here who has put his hand up and come forward with something that for all intents and purposes was going to go into the ether and not be found if he had not.”

Buckley’s Magpies will have to find a way for the remainder of the season to replace the pacy forward. The Pies currently sit third on the ladder at 9-3.