It was always going to be a close count between the Collingwood co-captain and the Fremantle star… and it certainly was!
Who are the Magpies players that should play to their optimum level in season 2021?
To be eligible for selection a player must have played at least five games in season 2020 so there can be a reference point as far as those players who apply their talents the best at the AFL level.
Here are the ten players (plus an honourable mention) who will stand out from the pack in season 2021.
Jordan De Goey has a lot of potential and is a match-winner. He has been injured and has played his best footy in the past. Despite that, he averaged the most goals per game of any Magpies player with an average of 1.40 goals per game in the ten games that he featured in during season 2020.
He had an average of 13.50 disposals per game, which is a respectable amount for the role that he plays. Expect him to benefit from Callum Brown getting more game time as there will be less onus on him in season 2021.
10. Brodie Grundy
Many experts rate Grundy as one of the best ruckmen in the game. He needs to improve, despite averaging 31.37 hitouts per game. He has plenty of work to do, but there’s no doubt he has the ability.
The fact is he was sitting on the interchange bench dejected when the Magpies’ season was on the line in the first week of the finals in season 2020. It was in the closing stages, fringe ruckman Darcy Cameron was in the ruck and Collingwood narrowly defeated the West Coast Eagles. The fact that Grundy finished equal seventh in the season 2020 best and fairest tells the story.
9. Steele Sidebottom
Sidebottom may have only played nine games in season 2020, but he averaged the second-most disposals per game with an average of 23.67 disposals. Hopefully his body holds up and he stays injury-free in season 2021. The concern is him not getting injured, otherwise he would have warranted being picked in the top five.
8. Brody Mihocek
Mihocek kicked the most goals of any of the Magpies players in season 2020. He kicked 25 goals, which was 11 more than any other player on the Magpies list. He finished equal eighth in the Magpies best and fairest in season 2020. He should endeavour to better the average of 1.39 goals per game that he had last season. The pressure will be on him as there will be more of an onus kick goals due to the lack of consistency on the Magpies forward line.
7. Callum Brown
Brown has an important season ahead of him as he has the opportunity to cement his spot in the Magpies team due to Jaidyn Stephenson being traded and Josh Thomas having to fight for his position in the Magpies best 22. Callum Brown should be excited for the upcoming season and stay grounded at the same time. The chance will be there for him in season 2021 and he can prove that he is a quality small forward.
6. Josh Daicos
Daicos grew in stature in season 2020 as he kicked the goal of the year. He will be a pivotal part of the Magpies’ jigsaw puzzle when they are selecting their best 22 given the departure of Tom Phillips and Chris Mayne heading close to retirement. Daicos will be looking to cement his spot on the wing for the Magpies in season 2021.
At the same time, he will be looking to kick more freakish goals.
5. Brayden Maynard
Maynard was unfortunate to not be selected in the 2020 All-Australian 22, as he was named in the initial squad of 40. He had a season that warranted selection, but hopefully it will motivate him to be in the mix in season 2021.
He was sixth in the Magpies’ disposal averages in season 2020 with an average of 18.47 disposals per game. There’s no doubt that he is a quality player and has earned his recognition. In season 2020, he finished fifth in the best and fairest, which shows he has areas of his game to win.
4. Darcy Moore
Moore was named at centre-halfback in the All-Australian team. Despite that, he finished fourth in the Magpies’ best and fairest. Magpies rely heavily on him as he is their best key defender by a long way. The pressure will be on him now and everyone expects him to perform in every match, but he should be up for the challenge.
3. Jack Crisp
Crisp has to be one of the most underrated players in the competition based on his display in season 2020. He finished third in the Magpies’ best and fairest. The fact that he averaged the fifth-most disposals with an average of 19.11 disposals per game means it would be great if he got the opportunity to have some midfield time. Who knows?
Due to the Magpies trading Tom Phillips and Adam Treloar, Crisp could play in the middle of the ground or on the wing in season 2021. If not, he will continue on playing his role in the back six with no fuss.
2. Taylor Adams
Adams averaged 22.63 disposals per game in season 2020 and won the Magpies’ best and fairest. He was named on the interchange bench in the All-Australian team. It’s great that he has a balance between hard work and talent. He doesn’t overwork, which will help him as he reads the play so well.
Expect him to be in the mix for higher honours once again in season 2021 should he stay injury-free. The big challenge will be that he will be tagged more, but that shouldn’t be an impediment for him.
1. Scott Pendlebury
Pendlebury displayed what a quality player he is in season 2020. He was named in the All-Australian squad of 40 despite only playing 13 of a possible 17 home-and-away games in that season. It’s a testament to his ability is that he was given that accolade.
He reads the game extremely well and therefore is so highly regarded as a player. There’s a chance that season 2021 may be the final season where he is renowned as being in the top echelon of players in the competition so he should grab that opportunity with both hands.