Collingwood 2012 Season Preview

INS: Marty Clarke (GWS), Jamie Elliott (GWS), Corey Gault (national draft), Jackson Paine (national draft), Jarrod Witts (NSW scholarship list), Peter Yagmoor (Gold Coast).

OUTS: Leigh Brown (retired), Leon Davis (delisted), Brad Dick (delisted), Daniel Farmer (delisted, added to rookie list), John McCarthy (deslited), Trent Stubbs (delisted, added to rookie list).

YEAR IN REVIEW: Everything went right for the Magpies last year. They won 22 from 25 games, recorded a percentage of 167.6, had an even spread of goalkickers, six All Australians and the Brownlow Medal was won by Dane Swan. The only problem was Geelong completely outplayed them in the second half of a pulsating grand final to deny them back-to-back flags. Mick Malthouse then walked away from Collingwood to let Nathan Buckley drive without someone looking over his shoulder. Leon Davis followed his coach out of the club in a breakout year as an All Australian.

GAME BREAKER: Travis Cloke is now the most dominant power forward in the game. He is the best contested mark in the league and hauled in 85 of them last year. That was 35 more than the next best and the most taken by any player in a season since the statistic was first assessed in 1999.

RISING STAR: The biggest man on the Collingwood list comes with some very large raps. Jarrod Witts stands 208cm and weighs in at 113kg. The New South Wales teenager is raw but get ready for him to have an impact, as Darren Jolly’s retirement edges closer.

KEY ARRIVAL: Marty Clarke has timed his second stint at the Magpies perfectly. The dashing Irishman is likely to slot straight in to the gap left by Leon Davis’s decision to head west, but won’t be a walkup starter.

COACH FACTOR: Three-time premiership coach Mick Malthouse makes way for Nathan Buckley, the former Collingwood captain who played 263 games for the club. Buckley won’t have Malthouse monitoring him but Rodney Eade takes up the position of football and coaching strategist. Buckley, famous for being one of the game’s hardest trainers, has ensured the intensity is high now he’s in charge.

STATS THAT MATTER: The Magpies took their well-documented obsession with keeping the footy and playing the boundary to another level in 2011. Their average of 389 disposals per game was the highest season-ending figure since Champion Data started recording statistics. In stark contrast with their grand final tormentors, the Pies moved the ball along the boundary line 51 per cent of the time through the midfield, seven per cent more than any other team and a whopping 18 per cent more than the Cats.

THE VERDICT: 3rd. The Magpies should be top four for a fourth year running, which gives them the chance for ultimate success in 2012. Expect the Pies to be more direct and the forward line to flourish under new coach Nathan Buckley, as they try to atone for last year’s grand final loss to Geelong. Despite their upside as a genuine premiership threat, the off-season injuries are a concern. The losses of Krakouer and Macaffer are significant, while Didak, Johnson, Btown and Reid have all had interrupted pre-seasons. The depth of the list will be tested so expect youngsters to play throughout the year.

BEST 22

B: Toovey Tarrant O’Brien

HB: Maxwell Reid Shaw

C: Thomas Ball Wellingham

HF: Beams Cloke Sidebottom

F: Didak Dawes Fasolo

Foll: Jolly Swan Pendlebury

I/C: Johnson, Clarke, Goldsack

SUB: Blair

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