18/04/2024

It took nearly half an hour after the AFL Trade Period’s deadline but in a three-way deal involving Geelong, Tom Mitchell has become a Magpie.

Essentially, Collingwood gave Hawthorn picks 41 and 50 for the Brownlow medallist while also a part of the trade, Ollie Henry found his way to the Cats, the Pies receiving their pick 25.

The trade sees Mitchell arrive at his third AFL club with his career beginning in 2012 at the Sydney Swans. He then moved to Hawthorn in 2017 where his career peaked, earning the 2018 Brownlow Medal, three best and fairests and two All-Australian jackets.

Mitchell joins a midfield line-up that is far from lacking in talent and will be integral in providing the missing piece of the puzzle among the group; getting clearances.

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Mitchell provides Collingwood’s missing midfield skill

Collingwood’s midfield is already strong in depth, but one area it again lacked in 2022 was clearances, and more specifically, centre clearances, with the side ranked 17th (11 per game). While there was a slight improvement for total clearances, Collingwood still was ranked 13th, averaging 35.1 a game.

A stronger area of his game, Mitchell averaged five clearances a match for a total of 106 this year: his third-best year for the state behind 192 in 2018 and 137 in 2017.

Collingwood GM of Football Graham Wright said the club had its eyes on Mitchell for that aspect of his game.

“We’ve had some interest in Tom for some time now and are pleased to have come to terms with him arriving at the Club,” Wright said.

“Tom has been a prolific ball getter and clearance player across his career which made him an attractive get.

“We are pleased to have Tom on board, and we look forward to welcoming him to our football program.

However, clearances come more often from stoppages and this year, Collingwood saw without ruckman Brodie Grundy, it was difficult for the Pies remaining ruckmen to set up opportunities for their midfield.

With Grundy departing, the Pies will continue use its duo in Darcy Cameron and Mason Cox, who will both play a crucial part in Mitchell’s success in the black and white.

But do the Pies need another midfielder?

On paper, it doesn’t seem like Collingwood need another midfielder. Veterans Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom lead an impressive group in Taylor Adams, Jordan De Goey, Jack Crisp, Pat Lipinski, Josh Daicos, and that’s not naming the many more that can rotate through.

Pendlebury and Sidebottom are 35 and 32 years old respectively in 2023 and will presumably retire sooner rather than later; Adams has been riddled with injuries the last two years, too has De Goey whose off-field behaviour also restricted how much he played.

With Crisp comfortable pushing back, and Lipinski forward, midfield space frees up, and will continue to do so, allowing for Mitchell to slide right in.

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