2020 AFL Women’s team preview: Collingwood

COLLINGWOOD looms as a big improver in the upcoming 2020 AFL Women’s season, with much of its list fresh off a premiership-winning VFLW campaign. The only way is up for last year’s Conference B wooden spooner, and a handful of elite talents should guide the Magpies close to the finals frame, with added dynamism and depth down the all-important spine boding well for a promising year ahead. Their engine room looks mean, and at full strength the Magpies have some serious potential with talent on every line.

KEY PLAYER:

Brianna Davey (utility)

The prize recruit of the off-season finally gets the chance to prove she was worth the hefty cost, albeit having already contributed heavily to the Magpies’ VFLW premiership triumph. An ex-captain of Collingwood’s arch-rival, Davey brings undeniable leadership quality and can win games off her own boot. She showed just that on an almost weekly basis during Carlton’s run to the 2019 AFLW grand final, taking home joint best and fairest honours in the process. Able to play just about anywhere, the 2017 All Australian is as pure a ball winner as they come and is a player who coaches wish they had one of on each line. She is the complete package and may well be the player to turn games for her new club, making her key to their 2020 season.

RISING STAR:

Sarah Dargan (forward/midfielder)

The basketball convert came on well in her second AFLW campaign, earning a Rising Star nomination for her 16-disposal effort in Round 4 and featuring in all seven games. Her rate of development was highlighted by a move to the midfield, with the tenacious Calder Cannons graduate lauded for her attack on the ball and tackling intent. Given the recruit of Davey left the Magpies with a compromised draft hand, Dargan may well be the youngster to make the biggest rise and help her side challenge for the finals spots. Should she continue to play further afield, Dargan’s ability to find the ball will be a key area she improves on.

WATCH FOR:

Chloe Molloy (key position utility)

Molloy served a timely reminder of her talent during Collingwood’s premiership-winning VFLW campaign, completing her comeback from a lisfranc injury which ruled her out of the entire 2019 AFLW season. But the 2018 All Australian and Magpies best-and-fairest will be keen to get back out on the big stage and into her best form after watching her side’s lacklustre 2019 effort from the sidelines. Able to play off every line, Molloy can provide the key position support the Magpies lacked last year up either end, as well as some class through the midfield with a full VFLW campaign and pre-season behind her. It could be a big year for Molloy, who will look to stamp herself as a top-five player once again.

CONFERENCE OPPONENTS: Carlton, Fremantle, Melbourne, St Kilda, West Coast, Western Bulldogs.

FIXTURE:

Round 1 – vs. West Coast
Round 2 – @ Carlton
Round 3 – @ Fremantle
Round 4 – vs. Melbourne
Round 5 – vs. Bulldogs
Round 6 – @ Brisbane
Round 7 – vs. St Kilda
Round 8 – @ Geelong

Perhaps a deceptively tough draw for the Magpies, with some must-win bouts coming after a softer Round 1 fixture against league newcomer, West Coast. Games against two finalists from 2019 in Rounds 2 and 3 will be conference defining, but a late-season run against the Bulldogs, Lions, and Saints could push the Magpies into the top three depending on how they fare in the first month of the season. An away clash with Geelong, their second crossover opponent, will be a tough ask to see out the season, but it could definitely have been worse.

PREDICTION: 4th/5th Conference B

Last year’s conference wooden spooner should fare much better this time around, helped by the injection of two elite talents in the returning Molloy and prize recruit, Davey to add to the class of Ash Brazill, Jaimee Lambert, and Brittany Bonnici. A VFLW premiership bodes well for team chemistry, and the Magpies have a bunch of leaders among their high-end talents who can steer their side to a much-improved result. The fight for that third finals spot will be fierce in Conference B, and with last year’s results in mind, expect Collingwood to feature on the precipice of that range.

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