Collingwood’s Midfield Coach Hayden Skipworth spoke to the media this morning, following a rain affected yet intense pre-season training session at the AIA Vitality Centre.
Skipworth spoke positively of the way the squad has been training across the pre-season:
“It’s been good, we’ve had a really good pre-Christmas block, and we built on it today. We did a lot of stoppage stuff today and the boys are looking really good. A lot of players are on track which is nice, we’ve got a pretty healthy list,” said Skipworth.
When asked about Josh Daicos’ absence from training, Skipworth confirmed that the 2023 Copeland Trophy winner would return in the coming weeks:
“Like his brother they do a mountain of work, especially in the off-season. Fitness wise he’s cherry ripe, they’re both ready to go. I think he’s going to be a couple of weeks away just to let his foot settle, we could probably roll him out there if we wanted to but there’s no risks at this time of year with all of our players.
Skipworth was excited by the progress of Ash Johnson across the pre-season:
“Ash is going really well, he’s running personal bests (times) and in career best fitness, he’ll be back on Friday. We’re just giving him a download today and just let his body settle, he’s done heaps of work and he’ll crack in again.
The way Collingwood’s forward line will be structured in the absence of Dan McStay is still yet to be confirmed, but Skipworth confirmed options are a plenty:
“We’ve got lots of options whether we go taller or smaller we’re trialling different things, we know how we start Round One is not how we’re going to finish the season so we’re open minded with that role.”
Skipworth spoke about the progress of Brody Mihocek’s return from a small calf injury:
“He’s going well, he’ll be back in. He’s joined us in some drills today. He’ll be back in later this week or early next week. He’s so important to us and we don’t want to take any risks with him, especially with Dan out.”
Collingwood’s six train-on players have all impressed during their time with the Club so far, with three spots currently available on the playing list:
“They’ve been awesome, they’ve added to our culture, they’ve fitted in well and all of them have shown they can play at this level. It will come down to list needs and as we come closer to the cut-off date we’ll sit down and have some serious conversations around who gets the nod but we’ve been impressed with all of them.
“With those spots, we’re not after them to come in and be a Jordy De Goey or Nick Daicos, we’re want them to come in and fill a role for us so it will come down to what roles are available on our list.
“We’ve got no initial intensions of putting Dan McStay on the long-term injury list, we’ve still got three spots available and we will see how Dan is progressing across the year.”
“I was interested to see how they came back, the group’s really hungry. They were training in the off-season, they get their little groups together. We’ve got a really good leadership group of players that organise the squad,”
When asked about the motivations of the squad across pre-season, Skipworth was buoyed by attitudes of the group:
“We’ve got a lot of older guys on the list and they know that they don’t have a lot of time to hopefully cash in on some Premierships so they’re trying their best to give themselves a chance again, so I haven’t seen any complaints with anyone to date which is a good thing.
Skipworth spoke about the next crop of Collingwood stars that will likely see opportunities in 2024:
“There’s a whole group that’s a band that’s ready to go. We’ve got Reef McInnes, Fin Macrae, Ed Allan and Josh Carmichael who are chomping at the bit. No doubt they’ll get some opportunities this year and we’ve just got to make sure they’re ready to go. With a team that was going so well and an older list and an older midfield, it is hard to get some of the younger guys in but we’re going to lean on some of those guys for sure.
Skipworth highlighted that due to list changes at the end of 2023, centre bounce opportunities will be available for a range of players across 2024:
“I generally like speed and power guys at centre bounces, it’s the only stoppage with space and only stoppage with six-six-six at either end, it’s a really good score source for us.
“We normally have a group of players, we don’t just look at the mids, we look at the backs, the forwards. We did some centre bounce today and we put everyone through it. We put Jeremy Howe, to the keys, we just have a look and keep an open mind around who can add some value in there.”