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‘Incredibly sore’: Howe reveals pain from brutal collision, McRae’s hidden message

In today’s AFL Briefing, your daily wrap of footy news:

This wasn’t the type of “car crash” injury Jeremy Howe has suffered before, but it was brutal nonetheless. The high-flying Magpie has revealed he played out the grand final in pain after he was floored by a bone-crunching knock to the ribs from Lions forward Charlie Cameron during the last quarter.

Cameron crashed into Howe as he cleared the ball from Collingwood’s defence, leaving him gasping on the ground with badly bruised ribs.

Jeremy Howe was collected by Charlie Cameron late in the game

Jeremy Howe was collected by Charlie Cameron late in the gameCredit: Getty Images

The Magpies defender is accustomed to extreme pain, having broken his arm in six places after a sickening midair collision in the opening round of the season.

This pain was tolerable by comparison, and he got up and played out the match, helping Collingwood hold on to a four-point win in one of the great grand finals.  

“The incident late in the game with Charlie ... He managed to hit me relatively late, it was probably in play, [but I] got a down-field free kick,” Howe told Channel Nine on Sunday.

Jeremy Howe’s rib injury did not prevent him celebrating Collingwood’s premiership.

Jeremy Howe’s rib injury did not prevent him celebrating Collingwood’s premiership.Credit: Getty

“The ribs are incredibly sore but I think if we lost they’d be sorer.

“I’ve got six months to get them right. I can tolerate the pain for now. I bounced out of bed regardless.”

Leading into the finals Howe said the bone had protruded from his arm when he crashed-landed in round one, describing the excruciating pain, and he came back from a horrific knee injury in 2020.

McRae reveals hidden message under the collar of his grand final shirt

Collingwood coach Craig McRae had the message “44 sons” written under the collar of the shirt he wore through Saturday’s epic grand final to signify how he felt about each player in the Magpies squad during 2023 as they drove towards a premiership.

McRae revealed the legacy theme when he spoke to players, coaches, past players, club employees, and their friends and family at Collingwood’s official post-premiership celebrations held at Centrepiece in Melbourne on Saturday night.

He said each player on the list did the same, inscribing a personal message under the collar of their own jumper with words describing the legacy they wanted to leave as a person and a player in 2023.

“All the players had inside their jumper something they want to be remembered for,” McRae said.

“It was an action. It was theirs ... when we created legacy, today players ideally lived theirs. In my shirt I had [written] 44 sons. I’ve got three beautiful daughters now, I don’t have a son, but I consider all these guys in the squad my sons, so I wore that under my collar today.”

Craig McRae with Brayden Maynard.

Craig McRae with Brayden Maynard.Credit: AFL Photos / Getty Images

The Magpies coach said on Saturday night he was yet to return to St Vincent’s Hospital where his wife Gabrielle gave birth to their daughter Maggie at 7.45am on grand final morning. Gabrielle went to the hospital with her sister at 10pm on Friday night after going into labour, before ringing McRae at 6am to join them at the hospital to be with them when the baby was born.

Collingwood president Jeff Browne praised McRae and the players for their character and driving the change the club undertook when the new coach was appointed.

He said the win was “the ultimate satisfaction” for him, and he was rapt to be there after a health scare put him in hospital briefly on the eve of the finals.

“[It was] a bit of pit stop, a little bit of late pre-season training and got myself back into it,” Browne said.

Past presidents Mark Korda and Eddie McGuire, as well as previous coach and champion player Nathan Buckley, Anthony Rocca, Luke Ball and Sharrod Wellingham were among the throng celebrating the club’s 16th premiership.

Browne said the club wanted to recognise and acknowledge that any success was built on the efforts of those who went before them.

“We are one big club. We are Collingwood ... this club has got a rich history, and days like this celebrate that history and salute the people that have gone before. We should never forget that,” Browne said.

After congregating in a circle in the middle of the MCG where they told each other what the win meant to them, the players appeared before fans gathered at the AIA Centre where the Collingwood chant was being sung loud and proud.

They then sang the club theme song at Centrepiece before Daryl Braithwaite appeared for three songs.