At times, it’s hard to believe Nick Daicos has already played 47 games in his AFL career.
But at others, you wonder how it’s only been that many given the accomplishments he’s gathered along the way.
The 20-year-old has packed a lot into his two-season career, but his year in 2023 was something to behold.
28 Brownlow votes, runner up in the Copeland trophy, All-Australian selection, AFLCA Best Young Player, and of course, a premiership medal.
But despite the individual accolades, it’s the latter of those awards that Daicos holds dearest.
“It’s such a cliché but it’s such a special group,” he said.
“We love each other’s company, we love seeing each other succeed, we all work so hard towards the one goal together and I think that’s what has made winning it together so special.
“We’ve all worked so hard on day one of pre-season … we were all willing to put in the work, everyday we’d come in and smile and get to work.
“Sharing the premiership with my teammates, and the one club mentality with all the staff, just proves that all the hard work was worth it and I can’t wait to go again.”
Of course, the premiership was a family affair for Daicos who has been alongside brother Josh every step of the way throughout his career, as they follow dad Peter’s footsteps.
Grand Final day has always held a special place in the midfielder’s heart, but being out there amplified it to a new level.
“It means so much to me and my family and something you always aspire to do as a young kid so to finally be recognised and have premiership player next to my name is quite surreal,” Daicos said.
“It’s one of those things that will sink in more as time goes on, but it’s so special right now and I’m sure it will be even more special in fifty years’ time.
“The photos we got out on the ground, the moments we shared are lifetime memories. Even mum and dad bursting onto the ground after the siren was just amazing.
“We (he and Josh) usually stand next to each other for the national anthem, it’s a little tradition we’ve created. I was just trying as much as I could to enjoy the moment, I’m sure he was the same so we try and smile while we’re out there.
“I remember doing the lap of honour you do with your medal after and looking up to the spot we always used to sit on Grand Final day both Josh, Dad and I, so to be out there and playing is amazing.”
For Daicos, it has been former captain Scott Pendlebury that he has looked up to, even before arriving at the Club.
Now playing alongside him, and playing a crucial part in the team’s success, the learnings have been invaluable as he continues to forge his burgeoning career.
“Pendles has been awesome for me since I’ve come through the doors,” he said.
“I trained here a year early and I had a week of training and just seeing the professionalism and the way he went about it was amazing.
“Since I’ve actually been on the list, I love how humble he is for such a champion, he’s the greatest Magpie of all time and he’s still so humble.
“He aspires for all things team, never cares about the individual and that’s something I’ve taken from him being a young kid coming through, always wanting to play well but then you realise there’s much bigger fish to fry and putting all your eggs into the team’s basket.”
While hoping it’s the first of many, Daicos now knows what it takes to reach the pinnacle.
Enjoying the balance in the Pies’ line-up, he believes there are multiple factors involved in triumphing on the biggest stage of all.
“It takes a mix of youth, experience, wisdom, and people who are willing to work hard and sacrifice themselves,” he said.
“I think the youth bring the energy and the wise bring the experience like Scott and Steele - they’ve been through it and have seen the heartache that it can cause.”
Nick Daicos’ 2023 stats:
- Third place in the Brownlow medal
- Equal second in the Copeland Trophy
- Ranks elite in disposals and kicks
- Ranked #1 at Collingwood for disposals and #7 in the AFL
- AFLCA Best Young Player Award