20/04/2024

Tarni White will continue her career at Collingwood following a three-team trade. (Picture: St Kilda FC)

Despite enduring a tough off-season, Collingwood still has plenty to be excited about after securing the services of Tarni White and Grace Campbell.

While the Magpies have big holes to fill with one-of-a-kind forward Chloe Molloy, All-Australian midfielder Jaimee Lambert, and inaugural captain Steph Chiocci all leaving, their remaining list and new recruits mean they can still look to be competitive in 2023.

White and Campbell arrived at the AIA Centre as part of a three-team trade with St Kilda and North Melbourne on the first day of the AFLW Sign and Trade Period.

The Magpies are getting two established players who have shown that they can overcome adversity after dealing with ACL injuries.

While the pair have played at their best in the midfield, both have shown they can play different roles to suit the needs of the team.

Will White and Campbell both be midfielders?

White and Campbell weren’t guaranteed midfield minutes at their former clubs, but a fresh start in black and white could come with more opportunity.

The departures of Lambert and Chiocci will open up spots, even with key players set to return from injury.

White primarily played in defence during her first two seasons in the league after being drafted out of Coorparoo by the Saints in 2019.

But she moved into the midfield in the 2022 season when Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith both missed the entire season. It resulted in a career-best year for White, who was second at St Kilda for total clearances and tackles.

But the 22-year-old’s time in the middle dried up at the end of last year, with the utility used more as a half-back towards the end of season seven.

It’s a similar story for Campbell, who initially started her career as a contested midfielder after joining Richmond as an expansion signing out of its VFLW program. She was a bright spot for their Tigers in their winless debut season and finished equal fourth in their best and fairest.

Campbell requested a trade to North Melbourne at the end of the 2020 season and became a pressure forward at her new club due to its midfield depth.

The 27-year-old found a solid role at the Kangaroos but missed the entirety of last season after suffering an ACL injury in August.

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Out of the two players, White has the better claim to a midfield spot due to her good form when she played the position and her higher upside as a younger player.

In contrast, Campbell should be able to slot more easily into a forward role for the Pies. While the Bendigo product isn’t a known goalkicker with only two for her entire career, her strong tackling does make her a reliable pressure forward who can create opportunities for others.

Grace Campbell became a pressured forward at North Melbourne after leaving Richmond. (Photo: North Media)

How does Collingwood measure up now?

Campbell and White won’t be expected to make up for the quality of Collingwood’s three departed players, with that responsibility falling to two of its returning stars.

Former league best and fairest Brianna Davey and All-Australian Britt Bonnici will both return from ACL injuries and should ensure the club remains competitive.

The disappointment for the team is that instead of the duo coming back to make the Magpies a contender once again, they are filling the talent gap that has been left behind.

The situation has given Collingwood the chance to rejuvenate its list without needing to go down the path of a full-blown rebuild. The club fielded the oldest team in the league last season meaning something would eventually have to give even if it retained Lambert and Chiocci.

The Magpies’ ceiling is likely the bottom half of the eight once again, but it can also use next season as a chance to give more opportunities to their younger players in preparation for their next premiership assault.

As mentioned earlier White could be in line for midfield minutes when she arrives, while Mikala Cann, Tarni Brown, and Eliza James are three others who look ready for more time in the centre of the ground.

Collingwood’s back five remains strong after it carried the team to the finals last year, but the team lost its one reliable forward target with Chloe Molloy’s exit. The likes of Imogen Barnett or Olivia Barber could see more time forward of the ball alongside Sabrina Frederick as a result.

Campbell will also add to the Pies’ existing forward mix of Jordan Membrey, Sarah Rowe, and Aishling Sheridan.

The club will take two first-round picks into this year’s supplementary draft which it can use to address any remaining holes in its list.

A proven ruck with one of those picks could be likely if the team does not trade for one before next Monday.

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