AFL preview series: Collingwood Magpies – 10th

Cameron Rose Columnist

By Cameron Rose, Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert

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    Even with Scott Pendlebury's class, the Pies won't be making the finals in 2018. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

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    Week one of our preview series, covering 18th to 15th, had one common theme among Roar commenters – where is North Melbourne?

    Week two, where we predicted 14th to 11th, followed a similar refrain, except this time it was Collingwood that the punters were bewildered about.

    Fans of St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs, in particular, were somewhat miffed and disgusted that their teams could be rated below the Pies. My sanity, if not my parentage, was questioned. Some thought I was suffering from a Richmond-induced premiership hangover.

    Let’s see if there’s a case to be made for Collingwood to be knocking on the door of the eight this year.

    B: Jeremy Howe, Lynden Dunn, Brayden Maynard
    HB: Travis Varcoe, Darcy Moore, Jack Crisp
    C: Steele Sidebottom, Scott Pendlebury, Daniel Wells
    HF: Will Hoskin-Elliott, Ben Reid, Jordan De Goey
    F: Jamie Elliott, Mason Cox, Alex Fasolo,
    Foll: Brodie Grundy, Adam Treloar, Taylor Adams
    Int: Tyson Goldsack, Tom Phillips, Tom Langdon, Matt Scharenberg
    Em: Levi Greenwood, Jarryd Blair, Tim Broomhead

    Collingwood being Collingwood, they have a lot of high profile players, and there’s plenty of individual talent among them. But they always seem to be less than the sum of their parts.

    The last two premiers, Richmond and the Western Bulldogs, have been the living embodiment of a team. If they didn’t play above themselves, they at least rose above what outsiders could see. All the Pies do under Nathan Buckley is sink below.

    Part of Collingwood’s problem in recent years has been constant injuries. But we’ve known forever that Ben Reid can never play a full season. We’ve known for a long time that Alex Fasolo and Jamie Elliott have problems they can’t shake.

    Part of compiling a list is to ensure durability and continuity – the fragile bodies of draftees can’t always be anticipated, but the issues of Daniel Wells when he joined the Pies as a free agent were all too predictable. They don’t get to complain about injuries when bringing a player with his history in.

    As a starting 18, Collingwood has the best collection of individual players, Mason Cox aside, of all teams we’ve covered so far.

    Speaking of Mason Cox, the forward line is going to be the Pies’ biggest problem. Much has been made of Darcy Moore being moved to centre half-back, which suggests that Buckley believes Cox can be the answer as a tall full-forward and back-up ruckman.

    Mason Cox

    (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    Ben Reid has been a swingman for several years now, and can certainly pop up as a forward from time to time, but he struggles to influence games consistently. Ultimately, he hasn’t had the career that was once promised.

    Should Jamie Elliott play as a small full-forward, to allow an extra pressure player up forward? Alex Fasolo could also play this role. They are the two best marking forwards at the Pies, unusually so given they both come in small packages. Collingwood look a better side when they are both in the team, which the stats back up.

    Jordan de Goey continues to make great strides on the field, just as he loses ground off it. The Pies need all the class they can get on the park, and he has some. Forget the naysayers and do-gooders, and get him in the team for Round 1.

    Will Hoskin-Elliott added immediate value last year after crossing from GWS, with the biggest surprise being that his body stood up for every game. He’s capable of more though, and needs to go from nice player to a damaging one.

    Goals are still going to be a problem, and hopefully the coaching staff have been putting a priority on forward-line dynamic over pre-season. We can expect to see a lot of moving parts through there, but the focus must be on trapping the ball in their half, and working together to generate the shots.

    The midfield is the strength of this team, and they should be able to generate enough forward entries to keep the Pies above the lower third of the ladder.

    Scott Pendlebury is still all class, Adam Treloar is easily mocked for his kicking but can explode from stoppages like few others, Steele Sidebottom is a model of reliability covering territory, Taylor Adams is the grunt machine.

    Scott Pendlebury Collingwood Magpies AFL 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    These are very good footballers, prolific and complementary as a quartet, underrated as a group, and a key reason why Collingwood never drop as far as their detractors suggest they should.

    Add in Brodie Grundy, an ever-consistent ruckman and a genuine around-the-ground ball-winner, and there is plenty there to build around.

    Daniel Wells is the cherry on top, but can’t be relied upon. Travis Varcoe and Jack Crisp were moved back at various stages in 2017, and should start this season behind the ball, but can run through the middle when required.

    Jeremy Howe could have easily been an All Australian last year, and has found a new lease of life in his time at the Magpies. Fellow ex-Dee Lynden Dunn is a good full-back, and loves to clear the ball out of the area as long and strong as he can.

    Darcy Moore could be the latest in a long line of VFL/AFL players to go from good forward to great backman, he and Howe will prove a hard to pass athletic duo. Add in Tom Langdon and Matt Scharenberg, who also both excel at intercepting, and the Pies have the potential there to create a lot of drive from the back half after forcing turnovers. Varcoe, Crisp and Brayden Maynard will help run it out.

    Of course, all of this depends on Collingwood moving the ball more directly than we have seen in recent seasons.

    Collingwood under Nathan Buckley have fallen victim to painfully conservative ball movement, often caused by indecision of the ball carrier. A player frightened to make a mistake will always slow down, and find a short safe option – usually sideways or behind him because opponents running defensively have already started to close off options up the field. He makes the ball someone else’s problem, and his efficiency stats look great.

    Nathan Buckley Collingwood Magpies AFL 2015

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    The Pies have the fifth oldest list and are the third most experienced playing group for games played. It is the list profile of a club right in the premiership window, yet they haven’t played finals since 2013 and haven’t finished higher than 11th in the four years hence.

    Buckley had his contract extended for two years last season, albeit against most people’s expectations and, indeed, common sense. There was no real action from a list change perspective over the off-season – this is a settled playing group. They play Brisbane, Carlton and Fremantle twice.

    Collingwood were the 2010 premiers and played off in the grand final in 2011. The future was theirs, but they’ve done nothing but fall down the ladder since. Everything is in their favour to start the climb back up now. If not, irrelevance awaits.

    Prediction – 10th

    Cam Rose’s AFL ladder prediction
    10th: Collingwood Magpies
    11th: Western Bulldogs
    12th: St Kilda Saints
    13th: West Coast Eagles
    14th: North Melbourne Kangaroos
    15th: Fremantle Dockers
    16th: Brisbane Lions
    17th: Carlton Blues
    18th: Gold Coast Suns

    Cameron Rose
    Cameron Rose

    Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for there's nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.

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    The Crowd Says (193)

    • March 5th 2018 @ 7:53am
      JustAnotherVoiceOnTheInternet said | March 5th 2018 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      I can’t shake the feeling that the Pies are due for a better season than they have had for many a year now.

      With Collingwood now on the list I suspect we might be hearing a lot of “where is Melbourne!?” over this next week..

      My predictions:

      10. Collingwood
      11. Western Bulldogs
      12. St Kilda
      13. West Coast
      14. Fremantle
      15. Brisbane
      16. Carlton
      17. North Melbourne
      18. Gold Coast

      • March 5th 2018 @ 8:17am
        Thatsashame said | March 5th 2018 @ 8:17am | ! Report

        Where is Hawthorn you mean. They will be bottom 6 guarenteed. The previous 4 team discussed will all finish higher than the hawks.

        • March 5th 2018 @ 8:21am
          Birdman said | March 5th 2018 @ 8:21am | ! Report

          based on what exactly?

          • Roar Guru

            March 5th 2018 @ 12:32pm
            Peter the Scribe said | March 5th 2018 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

            Sorry Birdman but I have your Hawks bottom three. Clarkson is a genius but the list is suddenly quite average now and if Cyril doesn’t get out on the park you will look impotent. I don’t believe last years start by the Hawks was an aberration, more a sign of things to come.

            • March 5th 2018 @ 2:23pm
              Birdman said | March 5th 2018 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

              oh yeah? so how do you then explain last years strong finish?

      • Roar Guru

        March 5th 2018 @ 9:02am
        AdelaideDocker said | March 5th 2018 @ 9:02am | ! Report

        Melbourne’s bound for finals, according to every pundit ever.

        “Where is Hawthorn?” is probably the bigger question. My guess is we’ll see them tomorrow, or I’d be pretty surprised.

        • March 5th 2018 @ 9:33am
          Birdman said | March 5th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          yep, expecting the same AD

        • March 5th 2018 @ 10:11am
          JustAnotherVoiceOnTheInternet said | March 5th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

          It’s not so much the fact that Melbourne aren’t expected to play finals, it was more a prediction that Cam won’t mention the Dees at all this week, as they will feature in the top 4.

    • March 5th 2018 @ 8:10am
      Harsh Truth Harry said | March 5th 2018 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      they will finish 12-16th before Buckley is sacked and replaced by Ross Lyon end of year when Eddie unveils his prize recruit in a shiny new Holden driven into the media room with Rossy at the wheel. Buckley will finish his career in the media.

      • Columnist

        March 5th 2018 @ 9:50am
        Cameron Rose said | March 5th 2018 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        Well, Buckley was outstanding in the media, so I hope so.

      • March 5th 2018 @ 2:26pm
        peter chrisp said | March 5th 2018 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

        Not sure how far we wil go this year The Pies and your comment is perfect Buckley seems to be ok during media conferences but the rest especially our performances onfield have been quite ordinary could do with Moore genuine pace not sure if that’s lacking but my major concern will be our foward line once again we have a bunch of small forwards that you have listed above but seem to lack firepower i do apologize pun intended with the new Judas Priest album looking forward to that to me that’s where i think we are lacking & i do agree with Josh’s comments too perfectly said about the Pies & Brian’s ladder is quite interesting as well

      • March 5th 2018 @ 3:23pm
        I ate pies said | March 5th 2018 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

        Buckley won’t last the year out.

      • March 7th 2018 @ 11:49am
        Tricky said | March 7th 2018 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        Of course it will be an imported Holden not a real one.

        • March 7th 2018 @ 11:57am
          Harsh Truth Harry said | March 7th 2018 @ 11:57am | ! Report

          You wait, Ross Lyon will be introduced by Eddie just like Mick was all those years ago. Platform raised with smoke and glitter, Ross grinning like a banchee at the size of his Eddie pay cheque and all resplendent in a black and white jumper! Purple he says? What purple! It took Malthouse ten years to do anything but my bet Rossy Lyon will get even the Wobbles to the finals at least! Bucks can go host talking footy or some stuff.

          • March 7th 2018 @ 1:22pm
            Tricky said | March 7th 2018 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

            IIRC MM took a spoon side to consecutive GF’s in 3 years.

    • Roar Guru

      March 5th 2018 @ 8:15am
      Peter the Scribe said | March 5th 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      Excellent article Cameron thanks though I stand by my prediction of the Pies finishing 4-6th. Your Pies best team above is a beauty, well balanced with Moore down back. I would add that Maynard will spend plenty of time on the ball as an aggressive bull type mid along with De Goey. Wouldn’t be surprised tom see new recruits Murray and Stephenson play plenty of games too. Stephenson has electric pace and Murray adds run from the backline. (and he loves a bounce) You touch on the favourable draw but I go further and say its the best draw the Pies have had in ten years. This is a side poised to rise dramatically. If anyone wants some good interest on their money, put a stack on the Pies making the eight and by two thirds of the season you will be waiting to collect. If you’re bullish like me jump on for top 4 at big odds.

      • Columnist

        March 5th 2018 @ 9:51am
        Cameron Rose said | March 5th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        Love the bullishness Peter! Unbridled optimism.

        I think it is a good looking team, but you’re right, could do with a touch more genuine pace.

      • Roar Guru

        March 5th 2018 @ 12:18pm
        Dalgety Carrington said | March 5th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

        Wow, “the best draw the Pies have had in ten years”, are they not leaving Melbourne at all this year?

        • Roar Guru

          March 5th 2018 @ 12:59pm
          Peter the Scribe said | March 5th 2018 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

          Dalgety, it is more who we are playing twice and who we are playing once.

          • March 5th 2018 @ 11:28pm
            Doctor Rotcod said | March 5th 2018 @ 11:28pm | ! Report

            I’m not sure that Brisbane,Carlton,Essendon and Fremantle will all be 8 points in the bag.
            Thje Pies have to beat the Dockers in Perth and the Lions in Brisbane
            Travelling is pretty scary for a team that doesn’t do it much.
            Any more than the Hawks,Carlton,Brisbane and maybe the Doggies and Fremantle before the bye seems unimaginable then Carlton again,maybe the Eagles at home,North,the Lions again and maybe Freo in Rd23
            10 or less doesn’t make finals

            • Roar Guru

              March 6th 2018 @ 7:53am
              Peter the Scribe said | March 6th 2018 @ 7:53am | ! Report

              Doctor Rotcod, you forget how many top teams we pushed to the edge last season and should have won, this year we will win those games.

    • March 5th 2018 @ 8:16am
      Andrew said | March 5th 2018 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      10 is possible but they will need a good run with the injury gods and also their game plan to work
      So many more questions and they could implode with a few big losses and the media scrutiny they suffer
      My prediction is for it all to come crumbling down starting with some long term injuries a misfiring forward line and with a couple of big losses supporters and media calling for Buckleys head and by round 19/20 he is gone
      Not that I have ever had any luck with my predictions so I could be living a fantasy

    • March 5th 2018 @ 8:56am
      Manic Mary said | March 5th 2018 @ 8:56am | ! Report

      Umm that would based on how hopeless they were in 2017 I’d hazard a guess.

    • Roar Guru

      March 5th 2018 @ 9:02am
      AdelaideDocker said | March 5th 2018 @ 9:02am | ! Report

      Good write up, Cam.

      The conservative part of me wants to place the Pies substantially lower than tenth, but the confident part of me largely agrees with a placing around the 9-12 mark.

      They’re no doubt a talented team – but I’m slightly dubious about your claim that it’s the best individual 22 thus far – and the potential is write in front of them to have a good year.

      I’d be staggered if they made finals, but pleasantly surprised.

      Hawthorn tomorrow, I’d presume?

      • Columnist

        March 5th 2018 @ 9:52am
        Cameron Rose said | March 5th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        As we’ve all sort of stated, there’s a few teams in the ruck that could all finish anywhere in that middle part of the ladder. I wonder if the Pies draw, and their experience is what gives them a little edge. If they can just move the ball!

        • March 5th 2018 @ 9:55am
          Macca said | March 5th 2018 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          “If they can just move the ball!” There is no evidence that they can and if they can’t experience and an easier draw is useless.

          And even if they can move the ball their forward line is pretty uninspiring.

        • March 5th 2018 @ 3:45pm
          Bretto said | March 5th 2018 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

          If they can just move the ball… hilarious. If we could just kick and handball to a team mate. How Crisp gets a game is a wonder. Without fail he turns the ball over (under no pressure), while everyone is running forward. Which generally results in an easy goal for the opposition. Definition if insanity comes to mind. Nothing has changed, why would our ability to win games change? The game against GWS last week looked like a lowlights package of 2013-2017. 10th is about right.

          • March 6th 2018 @ 4:09pm
            Paul said | March 6th 2018 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

            Yeah right lets go on jlt as that’s a great guide

            11 changes to come into that team against a team with only 3 or 4 to come in

            We will see in first 2 rounds

            When They win them they won’t be paying $ 26 for top 4

            All seem to forget 3 games in 12 days in the wet too
            Essendon geelong carlton
            Very fair that last year and lost 2

            Won’t happen this year

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