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'They're right on the cusp'

Nick Bowen - AFL Media  February 6, 2016 10:49 AM

Varcoe not kidding around Watch Travis Varcoe speak with the media ahead of Collingwood's annual Fun Run and Walk around the Melbourne sporting precinct. Varcoe discusses training, Adam Treloar and the Magpies' aspirations for 2016.
Travis Varcoe

Travis Varcoe

Travis Varcoe sees similarities between Collingwood's emerging team and the young Geelong list of the mid-2000s, but knows there's no guarantee the Magpies will enjoy the same premiership success.

Varcoe joined Geelong via pick No. 15 in the 2005 National Draft after the Cats had played in two successive finals series under coach Mark Thompson.

The list at the time was a young one, with the club having invested heavily in the draft from 1999, netting future stars such as Paul Chapman, Joel Corey, Corey Enright, Cameron Ling, Gary Ablett, Jimmy Bartel, Steve Johnson and James Kelly.

After an unexpected dip in 2006, Geelong rebounded to win the 2007, 2009 and 2011 flags, enjoying one of the most dominant eras in VFL/ AFL history.

VIDEO: Watch Varcoe speak with the media ahead of Saturday's Family Fun Run and Walk.

Varcoe was overlooked for the 2007 Grand Final but played in the 2009 and 2011 premierships before joining Collingwood last season. 

The Magpies' list that Varcoe joined had undergone a significant transformation since 2012. 

Of the 2010 premiership team, Heath Shaw, Dale Thomas, Dayne Beams, Sharrod Wellingham, Heritier Lumumba and Chris Dawes had been traded to new clubs, while the likes of Luke Ball, Alan Didak and Nick Maxwell had retired. 

In that time, the Pies, like the Cats a decade before, had invested heavily in youth.

Taylor Adams and Jack Crisp arrived at the Holden Centre via trades, while Jordan de Goey, Brodie Grundy, Matthew Scharenberg, Brayden Maynard and Darcy Moore were netted at the National Draft. 

And in last year's trade period the Pies secured highly sought-after Greater Western Sydney midfielder Adam Treloar and Brisbane on baller James Aish

It's an impressive stockpile of young talent.

But as the Magpies aim to return to the finals for the first time since 2013, Varcoe is mindful talent will only get them so far. 

"These guys are right there on the cusp, I think we're on the right track," Varcoe said on Saturday ahead of the club's family fun run and walk to the MCG.

"Obviously we've got to go out there and do it. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't execute it it's sort of a waste of time.

"In ways there are (similarities to Geelong), but like I said you've got to go out there and execute it." 

Varcoe said Collingwood's 2016 season would largely rise and fall on the ability of its younger players to stand up and support seasoned performers such as Scott Pendlebury, Dane Swan, Steele Sidebottom and Travis Cloke

The 27-year-old said the Pies' youngsters were approaching that challenge with the right attitude. 

"They're very hungry and driven, so I guess with that bottom part of the (list) if you can get them fast-tracked," Varcoe said.

VIDEO: B&W Show - Varcoe's bad habits.

Varcoe said he felt no added pressure to back up his successful first season with the Pies, when he played all 22 games and finished tenth in the Copeland Trophy.

The speedster divided his time fairly evenly between the forward and back lines in 2015 and expects to do the same again this season. 

"Whatever the team needs, I'm happy to play, so it's good to have that string to your bow," he said.