Beau McCreery senses Magpies' pressure in AFL flag hunt

There was a time when Collingwood pressure specialist Beau McCreery felt he was fighting the battle all on his own.

New on the scene, the rough-and-ready forward from South Adelaide made his mark as a man more determined than most to chase, corral and tackle.

But it wasn't until Craig McRae arrived as Collingwood coach that McCreery felt his teammates buy into the philosophy.

It has since become a hallmark of McRae's Magpies and will be critical to the outcome of Friday night's preliminary final against GWS.

"In my first year I felt a little bit isolated with that but everyone's jumped on board in the last couple of years," McCreery told AAP.

"It's fun, it's exciting and I get so much joy watching the other boys come on and nail someone in a big tackle and apply that pressure.

"It gets the crowd up and everyone loves it.

"You put people under pressure and they crumble, so the goal is to bring as much pressure as we can."

McCreery's commitment to pressure has been vital to the 22-year-old holding a spot in Collingwood's first-choice line-up amid fierce competition.

He has done so despite the addition of Bobby Hill from GWS this season, alongside Jamie Elliott and Jack Ginnivan, in a talented collection of small forwards.

"It makes you nervous, for sure," McCreery said.

"I've never really felt comfortable in my position because there's always someone knocking on the door.

"It's obviously a good thing for the club that we've got so many good small forwards.

"It's exciting but hopefully I can keep playing my role and keep getting picked each week."

Hill, a testicular cancer survivor, has kicked 28 goals in 22 games as a mainstay alongside McCreery and Elliott ahead of the preliminary final showdown with his former club.

The 23-year-old's impact has also been felt off the field, where he is now a much-loved, yet feared, prankster at the AIA Centre.

""I didn't know much about Bob and I wasn't too keen for him to get here because I thought he might be taking my spot," McCreery said.

"But once he got here he's become one of my best mates at the club.

"The bloke's off his head. He's a funny man, scares the s*** out of me all the time.

"There's this bloody thing on TikTok where this bloke barks at people and grabs their ankles, and he gets me all the time.

"He's energetic, funny as, and his footy speaks for itself."

While McCreery's fears over his position in the team have been put to bed, at least for now, Ginnivan has felt the selection squeeze.

Last year's breakout star has managed just 12 games, including four as the substitute, this season after serving a two-match ban for using an illicit substance over summer.

"It's ridiculous ... having him come on as the sub is a bit crazy because of how good he can be but it just proves how strong our list is," McCreery said.

"And when he comes on he has an impact every time."