AFL 2021 Season Preview: Collingwood

Brodie Grundy and Darcy Cameron during training. Picture: collingwoodfc.com.au/

Last Year:

8th. 9 wins, 7 losses, 1 draw. 109.5%

It was a season of mixed emotions to say the least for the Collingwood Football Club. Once the season returned in June, it drew with rivals Richmond for what was slightly an underwhelming season return and experiences the highs and lows right until the very end of its finals campaign. How do you beat West Coast on its home turf in a one-point thriller, then go down by 68 points a week later? Only the Pies can tell you how.

Collingwood experienced its fair share of injuries, losing Jeremy Howe for the season and Adam Treloar, Jordan De Goey, and Steele Sidebottom all for an extended period of time, in return, the Pies were able to debut six players, seven including Darcy Cameron adding again a depth to the side that they have created years previously also because of injuries.

Finishing eighth was a true reflection of the Pies’ season, good enough to be in the eight, but not good enough for a second chance.

Track watch:

Young talent at the club, Isaac Quaynor and Will Kelly have impressed during pre-season training, as Quaynor ensures to keep his position in the half-back line, whilst Kelly fights to find his way into the 22. Kelly debuted in round six 2020, however his season was cut dramatically short with an elbow injury.

Injuries are nothing the Collingwood aren’t used to, with a number of players experiencing setbacks. Gun mid/forward Jordan De Goey was sidelined for two weeks, starting early February with an abdominal strain. The infamous finger tendon injury struck two of the Pies youngsters with both Mark Keane and Reef McInnes undergoing surgery and sidelined for one-two months as they recover. However, Taylor Adams recently sustained hamstring strain that has taken its toll the most on a player, and has the star battling to be match fit for round one against the Western Bulldogs.

Taylor Adams preseason training. Picture: collingwoodfc.com.au/

What to look forward to:

Collingwood went from a side which struggled in the backline, to a side who defensively, were incredibly hard to beat in 2020. Despite the shorter quarters, Collingwood kept seven sides under 40 points and another three under 50 points.

The Pies’ backline ranked third for the season, only behind Port Adelaide and Richmond. Darcy Moore made the All-Australian side while Brayden Maynard made the 40-man squad. Arguably, he missed out on his first blazer, but no doubt he’ll only better in form and be in full contention once again in 2021.

Highflyer Jeremy Howe will return to the side in 2021 making the backline something scary for opponents forward lines. A Brayden Maynard vs Jaidyn Stephenson matchup in round eight might be one of the highlights of the year.

It’s a big year for:

While many questioned how he would fit into the Pies side, Darcy Cameron accumulated 10 appearances in his first year for the Pies. In a form drop from Brodie Grundy, Cameron replaced the Magpies number one ruck in the centre bounces at various stages in the finals and didn’t do a bad job at it at all.

With American Mason Cox offering a similar role, Cameron will again have to fight for the spot has second ruckman. Cox only played one more game than Cameron in 2020, however Cox’s impact in front of the goals was significantly greater, kicking 14 goals to Cameron’s four.

Should Cameron earn game time in 2021, he will need to prove his versatility as a forward now that also Ben Reid has retired. If Cameron gets his chances to bag a couple of goals every week or so and stay in rather consistent form, he will definitely give Cox a run for his money.

Biggest unanswered question:

Will the lack of experience traded in fail the Pies?

The Pies traded out Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson, Atu Bosenavulagi and Tom Phillips in what was a very controversial trade period for the club. In return, Collingwood brought in picks and no current AFL talent.

There still would be some of the Pies fans that are ropable over what happened.

It looks like Nathan Buckley and his recruiting team are wanting to give their current young players a chance to make the best 22 and have on standby their new recruits to throw into the mix.

Round one against the Doggies will give a decent answer to our question early on. If Treloar and his new side secure the win, it is almost certain that the rage among the Magpie Army will refuel.  

Coach pressure index:

Medium.

More eyes will be on the personnel at the club, including coach Nathan Buckley after what has been a disastrous off season for Collingwood starting with its poor trade period, to being in the headlines for their ‘Do Better’ report findings.

Buckley enters 2021 in the final year of his contract, so he will want to hope that he can get his side back again to the finals and do better than going down 68 points in the semi-final.

Collingwood has what it takes to be a consistent side this season but if this year sees a final miss, many will question if Buckley deserves a contract renewal.

Nathan Buckley addresses team during training. Picture: collingwoodfc.com.au/

Ins: Isaac Chugg (Launceston), Jack Ginnivan (Bendigo Pioneers), Oliver Henry (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country), Finlay Macrae (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro), Beau McCreery (South Adelaide/ South Australia), Reef McInnes (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro), Liam McMahon (Northern Knights/Vic Metro), Caleb Poulter (Woodville-West Tigers/South Australia).

Outs: Flynn Appleby (delisted), Dayne Beams (retired), Atu Bosenavulagi (North Melbourne), Tim Broomhead (delisted), Lynden Dunn (retired), Tom Langdon (retired), Tom Phillips (Hawthorn), Ben Reid (retired), Matt Scharenberg (delisted), Jaidyn Stephenson (North Melbourne), Adam Treloar (Western Bulldogs), Travis Varcoe (retired), Rupert Wills (delisted).

Predicted R1 team:

FB: Jack Crisp – Jordan Roughead – Brayden Maynard

HB: Jeremy Howe – Darcy Moore – Isaac Quaynor

C: Josh Daicos – Scott Pendlebury – Brayden Sier

HF: Brody Mihocek – Will Hoskin-Elliott – Jordan De Goey 

FF:  Trey Ruscoe – Mason Cox – Jamie Elliott

R: Brodie Grundy – Steele Sidebottom – Taylor Adams

I/C: John Noble – Callum Brown – Chris Mayne – Tyler Brown.

Ladder Range:

5-8th

2021 will present similar challenges again for Collingwood, so it will be a matter of how the side approaches them and do better than the last two years in the finals series to make another grand final appearance.

With the lack of traded in experience, Collingwood will finish on the bottom half of the eight once again as they juggle to determine who makes up the final spots in the sides 22.

It’s a big year particularly for the midfielders stepping in; Josh Daicos to continue his form from 2020, and for the new rotation of young stars to fill the gaps left.

Should they get this right, and it’ll be another September appearance for the Magpies.

1 Comment

  1. The Cats beat the Pies in the Final, coming off a 9 day break. The Pies played after 7 days and a trip to Perth.

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