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Buckley: We're with Harry 'side by side'

Collingwood coach says Harry O'Brien has the club's full support as he battles personal demons, and will return to play when he's ready

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While showing compassion, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has made it clear to Harry O'Brien the club's focus must return to on-field matters, having endured a week of controversy about the premiership defender.

O'Brien, who has had ongoing counselling, has revealed he went to Sydney - and not Port Douglas - to help clear his mind over the weekend after falling out with Buckley last week. He said comedian friend Scott Dooley had done ''a great job of hiding me in Sydney''.

Star Collingwood player Harry O'Brien trains after revealing he is suffering depression.

Star Collingwood player Harry O'Brien trains after revealing he is suffering depression. Photo: Jason South

O'Brien returned to the Magpies on Tuesday and trained with the main group, although he left the field before match practice. He was then joined by president Eddie McGuire, with the pair leaving arm in arm and sharing a joke. They had been at loggerheads in recent times after McGuire's racial gaffe.

O'Brien, who also has a floating bone in his ankle, will not play against Adelaide on Friday night but the club believes he could return to face Gold Coast a week later.

He has ceded his spot in the leadership group as he battles ''personal demons'' and looks to regain his place in the team.

Player and coach. Nathan Buckley observes Harry O'Brien at training.

Player and coach. Nathan Buckley observes Harry O'Brien at training. Photo: Getty Images

O'Brien and Buckley had agreed for the half-back to step down from his leadership role when they met on Monday.

Buckley said the week's events had been a learning experience, but had overshadowed a superb win over Carlton on Friday night.

''Learning every day, not just about Harry, learning about myself, learning about what the group is capable of. This has largely overshadowed what was a committed and very strong team performance on Friday … when the club was under a bit of pressure and duress,'' he said.

Nathan Buckley addresses the media.

Nathan Buckley addresses the media. Photo: Getty Images

''That's the beauty of what we do. There are plenty of dark days … you need a lot of resilience and strength of character and support to be able to get through those dark days.''

Buckley would not disclose specifics of what was said during the team meeting last week, and immediately afterwards, which led to O'Brien swearing at his coach and other team officials and leaving the club.

It's understood O'Brien had taken offence to being asked whether he approved of a nickname given to teammate Paul Seedsman.

The Brazilian-born O'Brien said on Tuesday that his spat with Buckley was not a major issue compared with the personal issues he faced, revealing depression, sexual abuse and suicide - his father had committed suicide in 2009 - were behind his decision to take personal leave.

A member of O'Brien's family has been sexually abused, but it was O'Brien who witnessed a murder in Brazil on Christmas Day in 2011.

''I'm going through a history … of things for a long time, including a long and very complicated history of sexual abuse, suicide, depression, seeing someone get murdered, knowing who murdered that person and not being able to say anything, knowing that person will probably murder you,'' O'Brien said.

''When the time comes right, I will open up about these issues, but this is my personal experience and I have to do this in the public eye.

''And it's really tough, so if you guys [media] could just give me a bit of space, because I am going through some real stuff … It's really tough, really tough stuff.

''The club has been fantastic in supporting and protecting me and they have tried to do that. I ask you guys to co-operate because I am going through some real stuff here.

''That's the real issue here, you know, my demons that I'm starting to face. I just rattle off those issues and there's even more, even more that I don't feel comfortable in sharing.''

Buckley said he was happy for O'Brien to continue to be outspoken on social issues, but reminded him why he had been able to have a platform.

''But I think Harry needs to understand the reason he has that forum is because of the Collingwood Football Club,'' he said.

''He has a great and healthy respect for this footy club and what it has done for him and … one of the reasons he has a voice is because he has just been a good footballer and done his job very well.

''I think at the moment it's clear, from a welfare perspective, that Harry needs to have that focus on himself and getting himself in good shape physically and mentally.

''I get the impression everyone thinks he is a basketcase. He has been through some things that I couldn't imagine what that feels like. He has carried these things for a long time and he feels by sharing them it shares the load a little bit - that's what a footy club is for.''

For help and information about depression contact Lifeline, 131 114, or www.lifeline.org.au; Beyondblue, 1300 224 636, or www.beyondblue.org.au.

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Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78 vs RIC 105 19:20MCG
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115 vs GCF 89 13:40MCG
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 16:35ANZ
BRI 74 vs COL 86 19:20G
WBU 97 vs WCE 87 19:20ES
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs GWS 87 13:10ES
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 75 vs PTA 68 18:40Domain Stadium
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HAW 123 vs GEE 61 15:20MCG
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Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
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RIC 66 vs WBU 85 13:45MCG
GWS 101 vs MEL 56 14:10SO
COL 63 vs ADE 90 16:35ES
GCF 76 vs STK 104 19:20MS
PTA 44 vs SYD 92 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60 vs FRE 104 13:10SS
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 15:20MCG
NTH 133 vs BRI 51 16:40ES
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Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140 vs STK 66 19:50MCG
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84 vs ESS 105 13:45MCG
ADE 80 vs MEL 55 14:10Adelaide Oval
SYD 111 vs GWS 90 16:35SCG
NTH 105 vs PTA 113 19:20ES
BRI 58 vs RIC 137 19:20G
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HAW 127 vs WBU 57 13:10AS
GEE 105 vs GCF 96 15:20SS
WCE 81 vs FRE 111 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs MEL 83 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81 vs CAR 121 11:10NZ
ESS 49 vs COL 69 14:40MCG
GWS 119 vs GCF 53 17:40SO
PTA 99 vs HAW 91 19:40Adelaide Oval
FRE 74 vs SYD 60 20:45Domain Stadium
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GEE 67 vs NTH 83 15:20SS
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Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
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Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 19:50MCG
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Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE vs CAR 19:50ES
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GWS vs ADE 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs COL 16:35MS
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Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
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Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
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HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
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COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
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Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
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GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
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Round 11
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Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
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Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
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Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
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ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
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Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
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Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
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COL vs WCE 16:35ES
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ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
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Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
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COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
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Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
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WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
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Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
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ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
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GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
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Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
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COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
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Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
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Fremantle 4 4 0 0 135.32 16
GWS Giants 4 3 1 0 133.22 12
Collingwood 4 3 1 0 128.32 12
Sydney Swans 4 3 1 0 125.00 12
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