Craig McRae has revealed star defender Darcy Moore almost didn’t play against the Dockers in Collingwood’s dominant semi-final win on Saturday night.

Moore had 15 disposals and played a key role in the Pies’ clinical performance, which sees them progress through to an AFL preliminary final against Sydney next week.

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But McRae told reporters after the game that his star defender almost didn’t get to the line.

“He has been sick all week, so I’m just going to call that out for what it is,” McRae said after the game.

“I’m going to protect my players. But I thought he was pretty good tonight.

“If you look back and look how he played, intercepted – the guy has been in bed for a couple of days pretty ill. I love what he does. I’m going to stand up for him”.

McRae said there was a heart-in-mouth moment on Saturday when the club doctor rang him to update him on Moore’s health heading into the game.

“I hate it when the doctor rings me on match day. He rang me on match day,” McRae said.

Craig McRae has revealed Darcy Moore was sick all week. Credit: Getty

“So there was some concern. Level of confidence was still there, but there was some concern”.

But he wouldn’t be drawn on going into detail about what exactly was wrong with Moore.

“Don’t want to give too much away,” McRae said.

After finishing 17th last year, the Pies have shocked the footy world to storm into the final four and are now a genuine chance at a fairytale premiership.

But McRae said, at the start of the year, he was just hoping his side would be able to put up a fight.

“I was hoping we would be competitive,” he said.

“We have been far more than that. Credit to the players.

“Motivation levels (have been) really high to improve. Credit to all the coaches and staff. I’m not here to do a best and fairest speech, and thank you, everyone, but in particular, the players themselves have had to apply themselves and they’ve done it continuously. So they should take all the credit.

Darcy Moore was sick all week. Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

“That is part of the journey for us, about showing we have just got to continue to want to be better.

“The end line will come at some stage for this season, but it doesn’t mean there is a start line. This is a journey for us.

“Our players rock in on a Monday, and that’s why we have such belief, because we just see; we have guys doing PBs in the gym and on the GPS at training. Training on Thursday was the highest GPS we have had in six weeks. That is how you build belief. Belief through action, and this group believes”.

Collingwood were able to get the win despite being without gun midfielder Taylor Adams, whose groin injury from last week’s loss to Geelong will see him sidelined for the rest of the season.

“Tay Adams is hard to replace,” McRae said.

“We don’t have another one waiting in the wings. Everyone else had to just grab a little bit and I thought Jordie (De Goey) was outstanding again, playing under slight duress, nothing major, but for him to be at his best, and others to take up the slack.

“A big part of the game is getting the ball forward and we won the territory better which was a critical part of the result”.

Jordan De Goey was impressive in Collingwood’s win. Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

The Pies were in control of the game for the entire night but, after a dead-eye start to the game which saw them kick 5.0 from their first five shots at goal, they then missed 12 of their next 13 shots.

McRae said it had him stressing, but he was still confident.

“I thought we were just dominating that part of the game but couldn’t quite finish it,” he said.

“Part of our growth is that; taking those moments. The way the game we wanted to be played, we were. So you take confidence in that, and execution is part and parcel as well.”

Jack Ginnivan finished with three goals to be one of the Pies’ best performers.

“Jack is a good finisher, isn’t he?” McRae said.

“I think he missed a couple of shots in the third quarter, but he is a good finisher for us, he’s an energiser, the crowd gets energised when he does things which we feed off, too.

“We’ve got an interesting forward line. Some guys bob up here, we’ve got a lot of experience in our forward line, credit goes to Hayden Skipworth, he’s done an amazing job with that group to get the best out of them, what we have.

“Unfortunately we can’t get more than 80 points at the moment, so we have to keep the opposition under that. That is something we are trying to work towards”.

McRae said the Pies knew to expect Fremantle’s style of poessessing the ball and they counteracted them perfectly.

“That was something we worked on during the week, we scouted, we knew they were going to try to possess the ball by foot and we took that away from them and forced them down the line and our aerial guys got to work,” he said.

“That is a real strength of ours, intercept marking, I think we’re number one in the comp. We wanted to force it in that style of a game and we choked them around the uncontested marking in particular.”