AFL

AFLW 2018 Team Preview: Collingwood Magpies

Magpies players celebrate with Jasmine Garner after she kicked the first goal during the 2017 AFLW Round 01 match between the Carlton Blues and the Collingwood Magpies at Ikon Park on February 3, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.

Collingwood were one of the disappointments for 2017, but if the off-season is anything to go by, they are looking to turn to a new page and have a fresh start in 2018. With their star-signing Moana Hope failing to capture the form which saw her become one of the most sought-after players in the league, as well as the fact they looked completely disadvantaged almost in every position on the field, the Magpies had an understandably disappointing season. 2018 sees the Magpies without Nicola Stevens and Alicia Evans who will both be sorely missed, but with the acquisition of goal-kicking maestro Chloe Molloy, things may very well be on the up at Olympic Park.

The Coach: Wayne Siekman

Captains: Stephanie Chiocci

Chiocci proved her worth as captain last year and was rightfully re-appointed for 2018. Her leadership out on the field was evidently positive and whenever she got her hands on the ball, she was very effective. However, she only averaged 9.7 disposals a match which won’t cut it at this standard, so expect her to lift this season.

The Magpies recruiting for 2018 was a mild success, as they were able to add numerous young talents, however, lost two of their best players, if not their best, as both Stevens and Evans finish first and second respectively in the club’s best & fairest for 2017. Losing those two was always going to be tough, but with the recruitment of Jaimee Lambert from the Bulldogs and selecting Chloe Molloy, the Pies may very have covered both of them. Lambert should fill Evia’s spot in the midfield nicely, and although Stevens and Molloy play on opposite sides of the oval, Molloy’s knacking ability to find the middle of the goals should prove to be extremely valuable – and she’s only 19 years of age.

Where they sat in 2017:

The Magpies had a reasonable season in 2017, recording three wins from their seven matches. What is something to note about their three wins however, is they all came at once, with wins over the Western Bulldogs, a one-point thriller over the Dockers, and GWS.

They copped a heavy loss first up against the Blues with a 35-point defeat, but they were relatively competitive in their other three losses. They lost to both Melbourne and Adelaide by 24 and 25 points respectively, but they showed some real heart in a four-point defeat to the minor premiers, Brisbane Lions.

List changes:

In: Jaimee Lambert (Bulldogs), Chloe Molloy (pick 3), Darcy Guttridge (pick 9), Iilish Ross (pick 13), Sarah Dargan (pick 20), Kristy Stratton (pick 21), Ashleigh Brazill.

Out: Nicola Stevens (Carlton); Alicia Eva (GWS); Penny Cula-Reid, Kendra Heil, Helen Roden, Lou Wotton, Kate Sheahan and Georgia Walker (delisted).

The preseason so far:

A preseason injury to their second pick in the draft, Darcy Guttridge, has soured their preseason significantly as she suffered a broken collarbone in a practice match against Melbourne. There is hope though that the Under-18 All-Australian captain may return in time for the end of the season, but her talent and presence will be sorely missed come round one.

Other than that loss, the news coming out of their preseason has been nothing but positivity. In fact, the Magpies have even been engaging in joint-training sessions with the AFL team, so if this is anything to go by, the Magpies are already ready for their round 1 clash.

Who to watch:

Chloe Molloy is a must. Albeit it briefly, the Magpies were in possession of the coveted number one draft pick and even though they selected Molloy at number three, they would have certainly still taken her at the highest mark. Molloy is a goal kicking machine, as she led the TAC Cup Girls last season in the category. She also finished the season with numerous awards, including the VFLW Rising Star, as well as being a joint winner of the TAC Cup Girls Best & Fairest and receiving 2017 VFLW goalkicking awards. So it’s fair to say this girl is an absolute superstar in the making, with the Magpies gaining a lot of upside to their list after losing two of their stars.

Also keep an eye on Christina Bernardi. Bernardi has been working hard all off-season to improve her endurance so she can be a regular runner through the midfield, which will greatly assist the Magpies who lack depth in this area. She has experience kicking goals, having slotted 33 in the VFL back in 2016 as a small forward, so should her tank have increased, she may very well prove to be a smokey for the Magpies and produce a breakout season.

Fixture:

The Magpies will be looking already to round one as a match where they can set their season up with a huge performance against their arch-rivals Carlton. They’ve only got three home games, with one of those being played at Moe in Gippsland. They also have to travel to Perth and Alice Springs, so the draw has done them no favours, with the trip to Perth coming immediately after their away match with the Blues.

Author’s prediction:

Magpies will need to be competitive in most matches, but the lack of midfield quality is worrying. They’ll finish in either 5th or 6th place.

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