K rock Football

Magpies’ mids await Cats test

STEELE Sidebottom rates Geelong as the perfect first-up test for Collingwood’s formidable midfield depth in the AFL.

Even with Taylor Adams out of action for the opening rounds as he recovers from finger surgery, the Magpies boast a midfield that is among the best in the league.

Likewise, the Cats will throw Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Tim Kelly at them, with Gary Ablett able to pinch-hit as he progresses to more of a small forward role.

The Magpies have lost their last two games to Geelong, most recently only managing five goals in round eight a year ago.

“I don’t think I’ve played against Geelong and had an easy game,” Sidebottom said.

“It’s a perfect test for us and one we’re really looking forward to.”

The big change to the Collingwood midfield is the return of Dayne Beams after four years at Brisbane.

“It feels like for me that he never left … he’s fitted in perfectly and I’m just looking forward to playing consistent footy with him again,” Sidebottom said.

“He can have a huge impact – we obviously know the quality player that he is.

“I’m confident he can add a lot to the group.”

Sidebottom is coming off a career-best season where he made his first All- Australian team and finished runner-up in the Brownlow Medal.

His only lowlight was a quiet grand final, where Mark Hutchings curbed his influence.

Sidebottom has not kicked 20 goals in a season since 2011 but given their midfield depth, he expects to spend more time in attack this year.

“If I can go forward and hit the scoreboard more, that will be nice.,” he said.

Round one will also give a clearer picture of what impact the AFL’s new rules will have on the game.

Changes such as the 6-6-6 are designed to open up play for star onballers such as Sidebottom.

“We’ve seen some things at training that we’re going to try and build on,” he said.

“Not only the mids but some of our tall forwards will benefit from playing a bit of one-on-one footy.”

© AAP 2019