Can Collingwood win a premiership with their young list in the next five years? Part Two: Midfield

Yesterday, we dissected the Magpies defensive stocks for the next five seasons and who they have in their disposal for those forthcoming years. Today we look at the much maligned Collingwood midfield which has been their strong point for many seasons. The Pies have boasted big names such as Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury, Luke Ball, Dayne Beams and Steele Sidebottom in a very strong core of the side. Two of those players (Ball and Beams) have left the club and opened the door for a bunch of new, exciting and talented young midfielders. It is not just the on-ballers who have been key for the Pies, it has been their ruck stocks which have been solidified by the recruitment of young and exciting ruckmen who are ready to take the game on. Through this, the Maggies are looking to push their way into a premiership tilt in the coming seasons with this new-look heart of the side.

Midfield

Ever since the departure of Beams, Ball and premiership ruckman Darren Jolly, the Pies have been stretched in their midfield stocks and have also had to undertake a major re-build. Of the remaining premiership stars of 2010 is veteran midfielder, Dane Swan. Swan has been one of the best midfielders of the past 7-8 years of the competition and his stats don’t lie. 254 games, 207 goals, an average of 27 disposals a game and a Brownlow Medal in 2011. Along with polling over 20 votes in 5 different seasons. He may not look like your every-day footballer with his body covered in tattoos, a rugged beard (comes and goes) and a beer gut which has been criticized for years. He has been the cause of a lot of controversy throughout his career but ever since the veterans of the club and his mates in the “rat-pack” all came and left, he has been forced to take on a more senior role at the club. He has played the most amount of games on the Collingwood list and has re-discovered his form after a poor 2014 which was marred by injury. His ability to win the ball and go forward and kick goals has been his major strength and has proven that he has another year or two left in the old legs of his.

His fellow teammate, Scott Pendlebury who is the captain of the club has been another of the consistent performers for years. His composure, foot skills and ability to kick and find a target has been of major envy to many sides. His stats which are very similar to Swanny’s show that he is just as much of a talented individual as Swan, if not an even better player. Some would argue that a Brownlow medal is the only achievement missing after winning a premiership and being the Norm Smith medallist proves the calibre of the man and his leadership has been key in Collingwood’s re-build. He still has quite a few seasons left in him and could still be a driving force for years to come.

The other of the major midfielders is Steele Sidebottom. Sidebottom has been used in his early career as a small forward who has been a dangerous creative talent in a department already stocked up with numerous individuals. His move into the midfield has improved his game and has proved to get better every season. He had been seen as inconsistent for quite a few seasons as his form for a few games was impressive before dropping off and playing a few stinkers but that has improved recently. Through this rapid improvement in his game in midfield, he has managed to become a vital cog in the Pies midfield.

One of Collingwood’s newest recruits is hard-ball winning midfielder, Levi Greenwood. Signing from North-Melbourne in the 2014 off-season he has had his season cruelled by injuries and only returned four weeks ago. Going into 2014, Greenwood was in a position of make or break at the Roos as he had only played 11 games in two seasons and was probably coming close to being de-listed. However, 2014 was a major break-out year for Greenwood where he turned his career around and became a vital cog in the Roos midfield. After signing for Collingwood in the off-season, he came with heavy expectation to be one our potential replacement for Luke Ball. However, he broke his leg in the NAB Challenge and missed months of action. When he returned against the Eagles, he looked a bit slow but in the past few weeks he has started to show his talent and his ball-winning strengths which made him such a good player in 2014. He has only played four games this season but at 26 he still has three or four solid seasons left in him to help the Pies push forward into the future.

The youth of Collingwood’s midfield is just as exciting as their already stocked up proven midfield talent. Taylor Adams, Jordan De Goey and Jack Crisp are proving to be real talented individuals who can further push Collingwood’s future credentials. Adams, who came from GWS at the start of 2014, has been slow in his development but in 2015 he has broken out into our midfield and plays a similar style to that of Greenwood. He can also play as a forward but his ability to win the hard-ball has been a major strength of his. However, his kicking has let him down and needs to improve on that going into the future. De Goey, who we picked up with pick #5 in the 2014 draft has showed glimpses of his potential. Playing already 12 games for Collingwood, he has shown his very similar ability to that of Greenwood and Adams to put his head in the pack and win the hard ball but also go forward and kick goals. He is proving to be a real future talent for Collingwood and could be a champion for years to come. Jack Crisp, who came to Collingwood from Brisbane as part of the Dayne Beams deal was a real enigma when brought to the club for a proven champion. However, he has proven everyone wrong with his breakout season this year. Playing every-game and starting in the middle of the ground on numerous times, he has shown that he can run, kick, mark and play a pivotal role in Collingwood’s midfield and is proving to be a potential star in the making.

The other is Brent Macaffer, whose career has been ridiculed by constant injuries. When fit he has played in the 2010 premiership side and taken on a role as a tagger which has saved his career. At the moment, he is battling from his second ACL injury and will return in the VFL. Expect him to be fit and firing next season and us as Collingwood fans are hoping he can put these injuries behind him. At 28, he has still has a few good years left in him but all we can do is hope for the best.

Moving away from the middle of the pack players, we look at the outside runners who play on the wings. That has come in the form of Travis Varcoe, Adam Oxley and Paul Seedsman. Varcoe, (as mentioned in my previous article) is having a new role off half-back and his form has been superb. His experience and ability to run and carry has been key for Collingwood’s success and we hope he can keep this up for years to come. Same goes for Oxley who has proven to be a find in amongst the Collingwood mix and has finally announced himself with some big performances already this season. He is still young and will get better with age as he is still inconsistent with his performances. Seedsman, has been a false hope. Starting the season like a house on fire, he won the ANZAC day medal with a superb performance. Ever since then, he has dropped off and been in and out of the starting 22. For years, Seedsman has teased up Pies fans but his performances as of late has been way below what is required. Rumours of a trade have been mentioned recently but at his best he can still be a part of this side.

The one that most Pies fans are eagerly waiting for is the debut of pick #10 in the 2013 draft, Nathan Freeman. Another who has been dogged by injuries is rumoured to have some serious potential. Ever since doing his hamstring last season in the NAB Challenge, he hasn’t been able to get fit and will probably be out til’ 2016. His pace and stamina have been highly talked about and he didn’t go pick #10 for nothing. Hopefully, he can get himself fit for 2016 and make his debut sooner rather than later.

Then there is the talk of Josh Thomas. Suspended for two years along-side Lachlan Keeffe for taking performance enhancing drugs has seen him fall out of Collingwood’s plans. In 2014, he had a breakout season and was looking to become a regular in Collingwood’s future midfield. Ever since that incident he has failed to play a game in 2015, but has been promised a spot on Collingwood’s list in 2017 when he will be 26 years of age. He will still be young and hopefully can get his career back on track and turn two years of hell into something to savour.

Michal Manteit and Matthew Goodyear are also in their first year and are still yet to be seen what they can do. A few more years on Collingwood’s list could do the world of good for them before they are ready to take the next step in their career.

Clinton Young and Sam Dwyer are basically on their way out as they have hit the wrong side of 20 respectively. Dwyer has more of a chance to stay as his elite endurance and pace has been praised by many in the Collingwood inner sanctum but has lost his spot in the team and at 29 looks to be out at seasons end. Young could never get himself fit since coming to Collingwood which was a real shame considering the player he was at Hawthorn before joining the Pies in 2013.

Rucks

The Collingwood ruck stocks have been strengthened recently with the acquisition of Brodie Grundy and Jarrod Witts. Two young ruckmen who are looking to assert themselves for Collingwood and make the ruck spot their own. Buckley has tried to play the two together but it hasn’t come to great avail when trialled. Grundy, who is a good athlete for his size has had a breakout 2014 season. His pace, endurance and skills have been highly recognised by many around the AFL and could be a future star with the potential he has. Witts, who is 209 cm and a young and developing ruckman is getting better every season. This year, he has improved majorly from his last two seasons by helping out the forwards with his height and ability to kick goals when needed. He also has the potential to follow in Grundy’s footsteps and become a great ruckman. The two are joined by USA project player, Mason Cox. Cox, who was a former basketballer has come into his own this year developing rapidly in the VFL and showing his elite athleticism. Recently, he has come into calculations about making his debut and you can expect to see him sometime in the future as he is getting better every game.

Conclusion

As seen, Collingwood have some serious talent in their midfield. With Swan getting older and Pendlebury, Sidebottom and Greenwood showing their talent. They aren’t without their replacements. Crisp, Adams and De Goey are going to get better every season and will be battling for spots in this side. The outside runners are looking stocked up with the talent of Varcoe, Oxley and Freeman which is looking very promising. By 2020, Swan would have retired and Pendlebury would probably be in his final seasons along with Sidebottom, Greenwood, Varcoe and Macaffer. Expect De Goey, Crisp, Adams, Oxley and Freeman to be the real nucleus of the Collingwood midfield. The midfield is looking just as stocked up as their defense and this is a midfield ready for a premiership shot in the coming seasons.

 

Midfield 6 – 2015 (full strength)

C: Varcoe Pendlebury Sidebottom

Foll: Grundy Swan Greenwood

Midfield 6 – 2020

C: Freeman Pendlebury Sidebottom/Crisp/Oxley

Foll: Grundy/Witts De Goey Adams

 

 

 

 

About Nicholas D'Urbano

17 years of age. Passionate Pies fan. Very opinionated. Aspiring writer

Comments

  1. E.regnans says:

    Lovely work, N. D’Urbano.

    I’m more of a fan of the Here & Now, rather than speculating about the situation in 5 year’s time. Nevertheless, you’re placating my inner Mao nicely.

    Given that GWS is lined up to dominate from 2018-2023, is this Collingwood list (like everyone else) playing for 2nd place?

  2. I honestly think that this list along with GWS, Gold Coast and the Doggies are going to be the real up and comers of the next few seasons!

  3. Frank Cheeseman says:

    Nice one young Nic, very well written and carefully considered.
    Pretty well agree with most of it. Looking “forward” to your take on our forward line.
    It’s good to take the long view while enjoying the moment,
    Keep it up,
    Floreat Pica
    Frank Taylor

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