It’s a familiar storyline. Experts and fans alike criticising the list management of the Collingwood Football Club, specifically their off-season recruits. But is it as diabolic as many are saying?
Let’s start with the positive. Will Hoskin-Elliot has been a shining light for the Pies across an overall disappointing opening two rounds to the 2017 season. Despite conceding losses to the Bulldogs and Tigers, Hoskin-Elliot has provided much-needed running capacity and dare between the half-back and half-forward lines. An untapped talent, the Pies received the former 4th National Draft pick for a 2017 second round selection, and early signs are that it is an absolute steal. WHE has taken the 4th most marks in the competition (at ten a game), displaying strong overhead credentials to accompany his gut running and blistering pace. Thursday night, MCG, 60,000 success-thirsty fans, despite a frustratingly costly turnover, Hoskin-Elliot kept the Pies in the game in the last quarter with three timely goals. In a night where even Nathan Buckley himself wouldn’t have been able to hit a target, the young wingman held his cool in front of the big sticks and continued to provide a beacon of hope for Pies fans around the nation.
Chris Mayne. Poor contract? Most certainly. Poor acquisition? Not necessarily. The now maligned forward experienced an underwhelming pre-season, failing to make the impact both himself and Buckley expect from a veteran player. After missing the round 1 line-up, Mayne received a lifeline when James Aish pulled out with a virus, allowing the former Docker a place in the opening two games of the season. Albeit not starring, Mayne has provided his trademark forward pressure, ranking equal 2nd across the AFL for tackles inside forward 50, while slotting two majors. Similar to Hoskin-Elliot however, a fundamental skill error (vs. Richmond) is what the footy world will remember from Mayne’s game. With a small buffer, the Pies looked to kick away when Mayne caught Rance holding the ball, only to miss a 20m, straight-forward set shot. If Mayne is to yield an output close to his potential, set shot goalkicking has to be a staple of his game. Only time will tell with Mayne, but Buckley’s career could depend on it. No pressure.
Now the great unknown. Daniel Wells. Since kicking the ‘Jackie Chan´ goal (a goal that would be illegal under the current ruck rules #neverforget), Wells has oozed silk, class and x-factor. Well, that is when he takes the field. Yet to appear in the black and white stripes, it seems Wells’ timetable is delayed week after week. The Pies’ medical staff haven’t had the best track record over recent seasons, but a fit and firing Wells returning in the coming rounds could be the difference between getting the season back on track or continuing to spiral out of control. The ability to hit targets going forward has been Collingwood’s undoing early in the season, yet the sublime foot skills and composure of Wells will be a significant boost, providing the desperately needed quality link between the midfield and forward line. So far, no good. But I have faith in the mercurial enigma that is Daniel Wells. Over three years? Maybe not. Yet again, time will tell.
A quick reminder to the football world that we are two rounds into a 22-game home and away season. #trusttheprocess