Collingwood big man Mason Cox bounced back to form in his team’s epic four-point win over Carlton on Sunday.
Although the American’s stat line — 11 disposals, six marks, four tackles, one goal and 11 hit-outs — doesn’t necessarily stand out, his impact on the contest was profound and it was his best performance in some time.
And it even promoted ‘USA’ chants from the 80,000 plus crowd at the MCG during the battle of the old rivals.
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Managing just 25 appearances since 2020, Cox has endured a particularly difficult last 18 months including career-threatening eye injuries that have required six different surgeries and led to him to wearing prescription sunglasses in games this season.
But the ruckman/forward earned a reprieve back into the senior team after Brodie Grundy’s PCL injury opened up an opportunity.
And after strong showing against the Blues, the polarizing 31-year old had a simple message for his critics.
“I know a lot of people like to talk a bit of s**t in the media and what not, but it doesn’t really bother me. It’s not their journey to go through. I’m pretty proud of my career and where I’m from,” Cox told AFLMedia.
“If people want to talk s**t, they can talk s**t. In all honesty, I think when I end up looking back on my career, I will be pretty proud and happy with how it’s all gone.
“It’s been a bit of a slog for the last two years, to be honest. It’s been up and down and all around. It’s just good to be back out there in a big game in front of lots of people.
“With Brodie Grundy’s injury, one person is a bit unfortunate, but it’s fortunate for myself to get a bit more opportunity in the ruck. I’m really excited to see where it goes.”
Cox is now playing for a contract beyond 2022 after penning a one-year extension with Collingwood in the off-season.
His return to the team hit a snag last week after getting subbed out of the Magpies’ win over Fremantle with a dislocated finger.
Cox revealed he wasn’t made available to face Carlton until Friday after being cleared of a broken finger and tendon damage earlier in the week.
“To be honest with you, at the beginning of the week, I didn’t think I’d play. Essentially my knuckle popped out and broke the skin. I got six stitches and you could see the tendon, the bone and everything else, so we stitched it up. We had to wait and see if it would get infected just because of the circumstances of the weather last week,” he said.
“We got to about Wednesday, then Thursday and Friday and it was going OK. It just came down to if I could mark the footy. Craig (McRae) came up to me and asked if I was good to go. It was a bit of a question mark for a decent part of the week. I didn’t do much all week, maybe I won’t have to do much this week, too.”