Magpies to swoop on Gawn with dual rucks Cox, Cameron

Collingwood coach Craig McRae is intent on picking Darcy Cameron and Mason Cox despite wet and cold conditions predicted for the Magpies' qualifying final showdown against Melbourne.

The minor premier Magpies will take both their big men into Thursday night's blockbuster finals opener at the MCG, no matter the weather forecast.

"I'm pretty happy to declare that they both will play," McRae said of Cox and Cameron on Tuesday. 

"What capacity, whether one starts as the sub, I'm not sure. We'll work through that.

"But the best version of us over the last 18 months is when they've both been at their best and we'd like to think they'll bring that."

Factoring into Collingwood's planning is the threat posed by Melbourne's ruck superstar Max Gawn.

The six-time All-Australian put in a famous finals series in 2021 to lead the Demons to their drought-breaking premiership.

After struggling with a knee injury early in this season, Gawn, like the rest of his team, is peaking heading into finals.

Melbourne are likely to continue using Gawn as the sole ruckman, leaving former Collingwood big man Brodie Grundy on the sidelines.

The Demons' attacking output has thrived without Grundy, after they struggled to score during a flat patch during the middle of the season.

Collingwood will be boosted by the return of captain Darcy Moore and fellow defender Nathan Murphy after the pair missed the final-round clash with Essendon.

Young superstar Nick Daicos was on Monday officially ruled out of taking on the Demons.

The Brownlow Medal contender failed to train in Collingwood's main session on Tuesday, but McRae expects Daicos to be back in action on Wednesday.

"(Daicos) ran well on Sunday, and we're all excited for that step forward," McRae said.

"The plan is for him to train (on Wednesday), so we'll give him a couple of days off (to) recover from that and take the next step."

As well as Moore and Murphy returning, pressure forward Beau McCreery is available after serving a one-game suspension.

Other than Daicos, Collingwood will be able to pick their strongest team for the bumper clash.

"There'll be little match-up things, there'll be little system things and then, 'What does the team need?' and, 'Who can give us a spark?'," McRae said. 

"On that basis we've got some (selection) headaches in front of us."

Collingwood can progress straight through to a preliminary final if they turn the tables on their King's Birthday loss against Melbourne.

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