CRAIG McRae won’t rush Collingwood veteran Scott Pendlebury’s call on whether he continues as captain of the club.
Pendlebury, 33, was among a handful of senior players who joined the action as the Magpies’ first to fourth-year players reported back for pre-season training on Monday.
It was McRae’s first official session in charge since he was appointed as Nathan Buckley’s successor in late August.
Pendlebury is the longest-serving captain in Collingwood history, having played 183 of his club-record 334 games as skipper.
The Magpies rotated their captaincy at the end of last season when Pendlebury was sidelined by a broken leg, with Steele Sidebottom, Jeremy Howe and Taylor Adams all shouldering the responsibility.
Adams, 28, appears best-placed to take over fulltime if Pendlebury chooses to pass the baton, but rookie coach McRae will leave the decision in the incumbent skipper’s hands.
“It’s up to Pendles to decide what his future is as the captain and I’ll give him the space to do that, and I haven’t put a time frame on that yet,” McRae said.
“But based on what we’ve seen here (at Monday’s pre-season training session), he’s pretty hungry to lead regardless of whether he has the title or not.
“He’s one of those guys that comes back and wants to lead from the front.
“There’s a couple of other guys that don’t have to be here at this time of year but it’s really nice that they want to take the first step with us.”
Pendlebury signed a new two-year contract in October that will extend his glittering playing career into an 18th season.
He moved well at Monday’s session and is preparing to play a key role for a regenerating Magpies outfit that missed the finals last season.
“He pretty much trained fully today, so that’s a good sign,” McRae said.
“I don’t think there’s too many more restrictions on him going forward.
“Coming into Christmas I think he’s just going to pick and choose a little bit when he arrives at training but he’ll be here for main training sessions.”
Pendlebury was joined at Monday’s session by fellow senior players Will Hoskin-Elliott, Jordan Roughead, Brody Mihocek and Brayden Maynard.
New recruit Nathan Kreuger and ruck-forward Mason Cox were also on deck.
Cox was handed a career lifeline with a new one-year contract in October and returned to Melbourne last week after a trip home to the US.
“It’s pleasing to see him out there,” McRae said.
“He’s come back fit and well.”