Welcome to the second part of my 18-part series on the 2021 season in review.
Collingwood’s American ruck-forward Mason Cox has declared he is “100 per cent planning to play next year” in an article on AthletesVoice.
However, he admitted the winds of change sweeping through Collingwood may mean he has to find a new home to do so, saying “I’ve got no idea where it’s going to be, what the contract’s going to look like or anything like that.”
Cox told the publication he understood the departure of Nathan Buckley and appointment of Craig McRae meant “a new everything really – [the club] has been completely turned around.”
McRae was Cox’s first coach in Australia, with the 30-year-old revealing details of a conversation he had with the incoming coach before the offseason.
“We’ve been really good friends throughout it all but I told him, ‘man, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you and no matter what the decision is, whether it’s keep me or let me go, I want you to make sure it’s best for you, best for the club and going to give you the best opportunity as a coach. Don’t put anything that’s personal in the way of that.
“Whatever way you want to go, I will totally back you and I will totally understand, and I just want what’s best for you.”
Cox has played 76 games since debuting in 2016, but has been restricted to just 18 games over the last two seasons – including just seven in 2021 – through a combination of form and injury. He started this season strongly, with three consecutive two-goal games, but had his campaign disrupted by a freak throat injury at training.
He is best known for a three-goal game in Collingwood’s extraordinary 2018 preliminary final upset of Richmond, which came in a personal best year.
The former US college basketballer turned down a job as a mechanical engineer with a large oil company to try his hand at Australian rules football.
He tells AthletesVoice about his initial doubts that AFL was a viable career choice, before deciding to give the game a crack.