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AFL 2022 Radar: After shocking fall from grace, it could be another rough season for the Pies

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Expert
26th January, 2022
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Collingwood suffered a spectacular fall from grace in 2021, finishing 17th on the ladder after playing finals in 2020. And let’s not forget they finished one game behind the ladder leaders in 2019, too.

The entire club crumbled into a heap in every possible way – horrific list management strategies, piss-poor communications, a systemic racism controversy, numerous board member disputes, the presidency changing hands multiple times, a sacked coach, player unrest, woeful on-field performances, and finally Jordan de Goey once again engulfed a legal dispute for reckless behaviour.

At least all of the changes mean the Pies are starting 2022 with the cleanest possible slate, and De Goey aside, they have cast a pretty low profile over the off-season. That’s something that never happened in the days of Eddie McGuire and Nathan Buckley, sometimes through no fault of the latter at least.

What’s new
What isn’t? New president, new coach, new Daicos.

Craig McRae has been a respected coach since his days as a triple premiership Lion. He was a mainstay at Richmond during their period of dominance, taking their VFL side to a premiership as well as assisting Damien Hardwick with the senior team. Having coached his own team will surely hold him in good stead, and he’s made all the right noises from a culture perspective early.

With salary cap space still tight due to the awful position they found themselves in at the end of 2020, chasing a big name in the free agent market wasn’t on the radar for the Pies.

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They have taken a punt on Pat Lipinski from the Bulldogs (56 games in five years), and Nathan Krueger from Geelong (two games in three years). Krueger is talented but still very raw, while Lipinski should be given every chance to slot in and keep his spot after never nailing one in the Dogs stacked midfield.

However, Nick Daicos will have the most attention, presumably to be unleashed in Round 1 if he is fit and well. The pick 4 from last year’s draft is not shy of confidence, and he will be looking to have an impact straight away – no doubt he has one eye on the Rising Star award already.

Star on the rise
Josh Daicos and Isaac Quaynor are the two to watch this season.

Josh Daicos of the Magpies gathers the ball

Can Daicos take another step this year?
(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Daicos has been in the system for coming on six years now, and finally started living up to his promise last season. He was played forward more than he should have been, and often looked Collingwood’s most dangerous ball-winner when allowed to play in the middle. He has more than a touch of class, and sees things others can’t, and should now have the belief that he truly belongs.

Quaynor also played his best football yet in 2021, and should be ready to go on with the job. 2022 will be his fourth season at AFL level, and he has the potential to elevate himself into All Australian contention as a rebounding defender with the ability to shut down an opponent.

Some of the best small forwards, like Eddie Betts and Charlie Cameron, exposed him with their experience last year, but he’ll have taken great learnings from that.

Who’s under the pump
Jordan de Goey is the obvious answer here.

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With a tsunami of culture change waving through the club, his indiscretions in New York were the last thing Collingwood needed as they go through their reset. Can this be the event that finally gets through to him, and makes him mature? He can still be part of the club’s next period of contention if so.

As far as the on-field goes, he played the most consistent football of his career in the last two months of 2021 when given the role of permanent midfielder, but it took the back-end of his seventh season to do it. If the Pies do want to move him on at the end of next year, he’ll want to have a good season to maximise his value.

Jordan De Goey.

How will De Goey go in 2022? (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Best-case scenario
Darcy Moore plays a full season for the first time in his career, and Jeremy Howe plays 22 games after only playing 12 in the last two years. They would be the most dynamic aerial defensive duo in the league, which would make Collingwood a difficult team to penetrate.

Add in Jordan Roughead to take the most dangerous big man from the opposition and Quaynor and Brayden Maynard as two of the best small defenders around, and you have a defensive unit that can stand up against any forward-line. That will make the Pies competitive against anyone, and could lead to a rise back up the ladder.

Worst-case scenario
Is it too harsh to say any time Jack Madgen gets the ball?

The Pies have long had a list of injury-prone players – at the moment Moore, Howe, Jamie Elliott and Taylor Adams fall into that category, and they are all vitally important. If they all fail again, and the experienced Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom come to the end of the road, the list starts to look pretty thin.

Add in the fact we have seen new coaches in recent times take half a year to get their first win, and it could be a long season for the Pies.

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Best 22

B: Jeremy Howe Darcy Moore Brayden Maynard
HB: Isaac Quaynor Jordan Roughead Jack Crisp
C: Steele Sidebottom Taylor Adams Pat Lipinski
HF: Nick Daicos Brody Mihocek Josh Daicos
F: Beau McCreery Darcy Cameron Jamie Elliott
Foll: Brodie Grundy Jordan de Goey Scott Pendlebury
Int: Jack Madgen John Noble Will Hoskin-Elliott Finley Macrae

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