Season 2011 Preview

Mar 20th, 2011 | By | Category: AFL Match Preview, Lead Article

Collingwood Season 2011 Preview

By GlovemanGayfer

Collingwood entered the 2010 premiership season talking about winning the premiership and they enter 2011 talking about the same. The massive shift in expectation and belief sees them this year going in as the favourites; the hunted not the hunters. Most in the media tip a top 2 finish and a spot in the grand final as the likely outcome. Outwardly the club entertains no such thoughts with an emphasis on approaching this season like the previous did not happen. Collingwood in 2011 is a very different prospect to 2010, no longer do the fans hope for glory, now they expect it.

Collingwood’s 2011 big issues, in the media’s mind at least, revolve around
GWS poaching and Mick and Bucks but these issues are unlikely to be the key issues for back to back success.

The football questions that 2011 will ask may look like this:

Does Collingwood have a back up ruckman?
If Darren Jolly was not the final piece in the premiership puzzle then he was the small knobbly bit on end of the puzzle piece. The first “real” ruckman at Collingwood in too long, Jolly’s strength around the ground was a major asset in success. Remove Jolly from the team however and the ruck stocks suddenly look like the one area that Collingwood might be at best vulnerable, at worst completely deficient. Leigh Brown is an admirable second string ruck but pinch hitting is his strength, not as he starting ruck. Cam Wood has promised and teased and seems to polarise opinions amongst fans. His attitude and application have been questioned and with the recruiting of beanpole project Jon Ceglar, the time has come for Wood to stand up or one feels a pent house in Western Sydney could be his home in the future. An ageing player, it is hard to see Jolly playing every game this season. Can Wood provide the back up strength required? Only time will tell.

Can Collingwood cover the loss of Fraser, Lockyer, Medhurst, O’Bree and Prestigiacomo?
To a Collingwood fan the loss of these 5 players would 3 years ago would have meant a wooden spoon but amazingly the loss of these players seems to have been almost painless. It is hard to see where, with the exception of Presti and a 2009 Medhurst, that any of these players would have seen senior action this year. As far as experience lost, the clubs nucleus of young senior players (Thomas, Pendlebury, O’Brien, Cloke) are all now players of 100 plus games and even the younger brigade of Sidebottom and Beams nearly 50. Cool older heads are now found on younger shoulder and the clubs two mature recruits in Tarrant and Krakouer bring a perspective on life and experience very different to what we have had previously. As with Jolly and Ball, these two have the potential to reenergise not only their careers but the club’s push for glory.

Who comes in and who goes out?
It’s fantastic to look at a Collingwood list and actually struggle to come up with a best 25 let alone 22. How do Davis, Dick, Tarrant and Krakouer fit into the line up? Can players like McCarthy, Keefe and Rounds establish a senior spot? Will there be a 2011 equivalent of Jarryd Blair’s meteoric rise to fame? It is conceivable that far greater list rotation will be seen at all clubs in 2011 and maybe we will see 5 weekly changes becoming the norm but if you want a challenge sit down and pick your best team and then look at who is not there. Our depth is phenomenal and indicates another reason why another flag is not beyond our grasp.

Can Cloke kick straight?
I think the answer to this question is that it no longer matters. In Chris Dawes the Pies have a true forward. A throw back to the Dunstall-eqsue player who drew the ball to him as the first option. Travis Cloke now has the ability to become incredibly dangerous as a roaming, hard running big man knowing that he doesn’t have to be responsible for kicking all the goals. If Dawes continues to develop I think that we will see Travis Cloke really hit his straps. The media have hyped the Franklin/Roughead combo for years but the Cloke/Dawes team is I think a better one with their game styles and work ethics complementing each other fantastically.

Quick predictions
Final position – 1 (anything less than a flag really would be major disappointment)
Brownlow chance – A Collingwood player may never again win the Brownlow! Swan, Pendlebury and Thomas to be our top 3 with each taking enough votes to eliminate the other.
Copeland – Dale Thomas. No longer a luxury, Dale Thomas 2011 will reach a new level.

2011 promises to be exciting and hopefully glorious. When the final siren goes with the ball in Norm Smith Medalist Leon Davis’ hands on the half back flank, players rush to embrace a tearful Mick Malthouse before another cup heads to greatest football club in the land.

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