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Collingwood future looks bright with young guns at the ready

The future: Matt Scharenberg and Nathan Freeman will be key players for the Pies.

The future: Matt Scharenberg and Nathan Freeman will be key players for the Pies. Photo: John French

Sunday's clash with Port Adelaide may well be Collingwood's make-or-break game for 2014, but in terms of its prospects beyond this year, it won't be the disaster some people are suggesting if they don't come away with a victory.

Sure, making the finals is a far more preferable alternative, and the legions of Magpie supporters will feel deflated if they are denied the opportunity to descend on a September fixture. And Nathan Buckley and his coaching staff would dearly love to have the chance to assess his playing group in the heat that finals football brings, but a detached view would suggest that the Pies are far from destined for a period of obscurity in the coming years.

What excites me most about Collingwood's list is a combination of what we have all been exposed to in recent years, combined with some elite junior talent that is yet to be unveiled.

Having immersed myself in the under-age championships in recent years, the player who excited me most out of last year's under-18 carnival was Matthew Scharenberg from South Australia. He had a presence and a poise about him that clearly defined him as an outstanding AFL prospect. He controlled games across half-back, delivered the ball beautifully and invariably made the correct decision with the football in his hands.

He is listed as 191 centimetres and 87 kilograms and has spent the vast majority of his initial AFL season recovering from injuries to his feet. He made his long-awaited debut in the VFL last weekend and got through a half of football. It is a lot to suggest the future of Collingwood looks bright on the back of one young man, but the very best judges of under-age footballers will tell you that this is a very special talent we are dealing with, and the prospect of having him complete a full pre-season, injury-free, improves Collingwood's stocks immediately.

Add the name of Nathan Freeman to that list. He was taken by the Pies with pick 10 in last year's draft, yet he has been unsighted all season due to hamstring issues. For those who have enjoyed Lewis Taylor's debut season for the Brisbane Lions, Freeman is every bit as equipped to have a similar impact when he gets his body right. He has genuine, line-breaking speed, loves to run with the ball and take the game on and he has the infectious, cheeky and cocky personality that will endear him to Collingwood supporters immediately.

Tim Broomhead gave us a glimpse of the talent that has the Pies genuinely excited on Sunday against Adelaide. Another first-round draft pick, from 2012, he has had to overcome glandular fever as he waited for his chance at senior level. He has some genuine X-factor about him and, again, with an uninterrupted pre-season, looks extremely capable of slotting into the midfield and making a difference.

In Scharenberg, Freeman and Broomhead, Collingwood has three genuine A-grade prospects at its disposal. And unlike at Melbourne, St Kilda or GWS, where they would be slightly exposed because of the lack of quality, senior footballers around them, they will be offered plenty of support from some of the elite playing talent in the competition.

Scott Pendlebury, Dayne Beams and Steele Sidebottom sit in the very highest category of midfielders in this competition. Dane Swan has owned and dominated the same area of the ground for many years, and we all are waiting with baited breath to see whether he can overcome his injuries and return to those same lofty heights.

That is a magnificent base on which to build a premiership midfield. Freeman and Broomhead will be pushing to join them, Taylor Adams will be better for this year, Ben Kennedy has ambitions to be a part of it and Jamie Elliott has all of the tools to be an on-ball jet.

The average age of those five players is 20. It is a tantalising and exciting prospect for Buckley to look forward to.

Tom Langdon has exceeded all expectations in his debut year. He, too, is just 20 years old and looks capable of filling the sizeable hole left by the retiring Nick Maxwell. Jack Frost is 22 and has played only 19 games of football. He is raw and a powerful athlete, and reminds me of a young Mal Michael, who arrived on the AFL scene very quietly, but retired with three premierships to his name as one of the better full backs of his era.

Lachie Keeffe is also an interesting prospect who has shown that he has the physical attributes to compete as a key back. If he can continue to improve and develop as a footballer, then it helps address one of the Pies' glaring deficiencies.

And in Brodie Grundy they have a 20-year-old ruckman who is as well-placed as any emerging young ruckman in the competition to put his stamp on the game. Don’t be at all alarmed by the fact that Grundy hasn't established himself as the clear No.1 ruckman in this team, after an extremely promising start last year. History is our best teacher, and history tells us that it takes a number of years for these big men to grow into their body, while at the same time they are coming to grips with the nuances of ruck work.

With Grundy, Scharenberg, Freeman, Broomhead, Langdon, Kennedy, Frost, Keeffe and Adams all first and second-year players, and Elliott in his third, the future looks full of promise for the Pies.

They will be supported by Pendlebury, Beams, Travis Cloke, Sidebottom, Swan, Reid, Brent Macaffer, Heritier Lumumba and Alan Toovey and the coaching staff will be hoping that Paul Seedsman, Alex Fasolo, Marley Williams and Tyson Goldsack respond to the challenge of these emerging youngsters and lift their output in the process.

If this group of players is able to prepare for 2015 on the back of a finals crusade this year, then that would obviously be advantageous. And once they're there, who knows how far they could proceed.

But if they drop this game against Port Adelaide and eventually miss out on a September appearance, then Buckley has the perfect ammunition to throw at them when they come together for their pre-season campaign.

The list management team will be, right now, desperately looking for the best way to provide Cloke with support, but they can also be well pleased that they have given their senior coach plenty to work with in the next 24 months.

This time next year, they will be contending again. How strongly may depend on how quickly their untapped youngsters emerge from the pack.

8 comments so far

  • It's about time somebody other than Collingwood supporters recognised the potential in this Collingwood list. I just hope they can hang onto Kennedy and Broomhead and not lose them back to South Australia.

    Commenter
    dms1972
    Location
    Adelaide
    Date and time
    August 01, 2014, 11:22PM
    • Martin not on the list Gary?

      Commenter
      Tim
      Location
      Vic
      Date and time
      August 02, 2014, 3:51PM
  • An encouraging review for all Collingwood fans but I was surprised you didn't mention the reason Brodie Grundy is not in the side and that is the fantastic efforts of Jarrod Witts. For a giant of a young man so early in his career and not coming from a football background he is a very exciting prospect. He is only 21 and at 209 cms has good skills and is developing his ruckwork with every game he plays. You may even find that because of Witts development and potential Grundy will be looking elsewhere in a couple of years time.
    And you are right about Scharenberg. I watch a lot of the kids coming through and he will be an outstanding player.
    If Bucks can just stop over analyzing his stats sheet and just let his undoubted footy eye watch the game and his players the Pies could have a good future.

    Commenter
    Jeff
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    August 01, 2014, 11:25PM
    • Yeah, Witts might be doing ok but he does seem to have a problem reading the ball in flight, he may be able to learn this skill and I hope he can. As for as Grundy looking elsewhere in the future, I don't think so. Ideally they will play both of them.

      Commenter
      Trashman
      Date and time
      August 05, 2014, 2:05PM
  • I think Bucks and the heirarchy have noted the competition around and above them this year and taken the long view. 2016/17 look tantalising if he can orchestrate the fabled 'buy-in' that all premiership sides possess as a collective. September action would certainly make a great bonus this year, though. Take a deep breath, doomsayers, nothing is owed the Pies. I have a good feeling that Bucks is building a group with an insatiable appetite for hard work and that's what wins flags in the end.

    Commenter
    Longview
    Date and time
    August 01, 2014, 11:55PM
    • I hope you are wrong Garry.

      Commenter
      No No
      Location
      Please
      Date and time
      August 02, 2014, 8:33AM
      • Finally an article without the hysteria and doom and gloom of the magpies missing the finals for the first time in nigh on 10 years. This was a rebuilding year and they have been great at getting games into kids. injuries or no injuries they were never going to push for a flag this year but 2015 - 2017 they certainly will be. if they can get the kids fit and firing and the stable brigade of pendles, clock, reid, side bottom on the park all year then there could be great things achieved. Nothing is for certain in this game though...

        Commenter
        JOSH
        Location
        St Kilda
        Date and time
        August 02, 2014, 11:10AM
        • Great article...very encouraging and objective since it does not come from a Collingwood partisan. Like Jeff, I am surprised that Jarrod Witts isn't mentioned...he is another potential emerging star. I think Collingwood supporters need to relax...this year won't be a Premiership, but this article really elucidates the long term vision that is animating our club.

          Commenter
          Katie
          Date and time
          August 02, 2014, 1:17PM

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          AFL 2015

          Round 1
          Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
          CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
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          MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
          SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
          BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
          WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
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          STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
          ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
          FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
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          HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
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          Round 2
          Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
          WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
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          RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
          GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
          COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
          GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
          PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
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          GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
          ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
          NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
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          Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
          COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
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          CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
          ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
          SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
          NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
          BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
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          HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
          GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
          WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
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          Round 4
          Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
          RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
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          STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
          ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
          GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
          PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
          FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
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          BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
          GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
          WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
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          Round 5
          Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
          CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
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          RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
          SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
          GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
          NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
          WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
          Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
          MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
          STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
          ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
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          Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
          COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
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          NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
          WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
          GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
          GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
          MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
          FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
          Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
          CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
          PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
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          Round 7
          Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
          ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
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          ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
          HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
          CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
          SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
          WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
          Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
          WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
          RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
          BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
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          Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
          GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
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          STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
          GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
          GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
          HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
          FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
          Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
          ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
          MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
          PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
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          Round 9
          Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
          SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
          Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
          HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
          MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
          WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
          RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
          ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
          Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
          BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
          COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
          WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
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          Round 10
          Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
          FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
          Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
          CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
          GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
          ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
          PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
          Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
          GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
          NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
          STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
          Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
          MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
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          Round 11
          Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
          PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
          Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
          GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
          WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
          NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
          Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
          COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
          STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
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          Round 12
          Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
          ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
          Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
          RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
          Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
          CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
          GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
          WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
          Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
          GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
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          Round 13
          Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
          FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
          Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
          SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
          Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
          HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
          BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
          STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
          Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
          CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
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          Round 14
          Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
          SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
          Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
          COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
          Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
          RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
          GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
          WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
          MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
          Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
          ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
          ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
          FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
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          Round 15
          Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
          PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
          Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
          RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
          Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
          ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
          WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
          NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
          WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
          Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
          GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
          HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
          BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
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          Round 16
          Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
          NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
          Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
          GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
          GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
          COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
          SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
          FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
          Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
          MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
          PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
          STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
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          Round 17
          Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
          CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
          Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
          GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
          ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
          RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
          ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
          BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
          Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
          WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
          MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
          WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
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          Round 18
          Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
          HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
          Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
          GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
          COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
          SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
          CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
          GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
          Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
          PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
          ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
          FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
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          Round 19
          Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
          ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
          Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
          COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
          WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
          BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
          GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
          WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
          Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
          MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
          GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
          STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
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          Round 20
          Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
          SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
          Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
          ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
          NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
          PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
          GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
          BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
          Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
          RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
          WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
          FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
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          Round 21
          Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
          HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
          Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
          COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
          GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
          GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
          STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
          ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
          Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
          NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
          CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
          WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 22
          Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
          GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
          Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
          GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
          HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
          NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
          ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
          GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
          Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
          ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
          STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
          FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 23
          Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
          RIC ($1.33)vs NTH ($3.25) 19:50ES
          Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
          GEE ($2.50)vs ADE ($1.53) 13:05SS
          BRI ($4.50)vs WBU ($1.20) 13:45G
          PTA vs FRE 15:50Adelaide Oval
          HAW ($1.01)vs CAR ($17.00) 16:40MCG
          SYD ($1.04)vs GCF ($11.00) 19:20SCG
          WCE ($1.04)vs STK ($11.00) 19:40Domain Stadium
          Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
          MEL ($3.20)vs GWS ($1.36) 13:10ES
          COL ($1.28)vs ESS ($3.70) 15:20MCG
          View All Fixtures
          AFL 2015
          Overall standings
          Team P W L D % Pts
          Fremantle 21 17 4 0 125.10 68
          West Coast Eagles 21 15 5 1 143.00 62
          Hawthorn 21 15 6 0 156.77 60
          Sydney Swans 21 15 6 0 124.11 60
          Richmond 21 14 7 0 121.39 56
          Western Bulldogs 21 14 7 0 116.76 56
          Adelaide Crows 20 13 7 0 119.10 54
          North Melbourne 21 13 8 0 109.08 52
          View all
           

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