The 2014 AFL season has seen a new generation of superstars make their mark on the competition – to celebrate, the AFL Players’ Association is calling on all footy fans to help pick this year’s 22Under22 team. Click here to create yours.
The Magpies have blooded a wealth of young talent throughout 2014, with three players making their AFL debuts this season and a handful of others pulling on the black and white for the first time in their careers.
Midway through the season, Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury shared some of his thoughts on the development of the Magpies’ promising youngsters.
The 21-year-old has kicked a career-best 33 goals in 17 games throughout 2014, following on from a breakout 2013 that saw him boot 30 goals from 20 matches. The high-flying excitement machine has become one of Collingwood’s most important players, and is emerging as one of the game’s finest small forwards.
Pendlebury said: “He’s carried a chip on his shoulder ever since he got to the football club – he’s a feisty little guy! But as a player, he’s a jet. He could be in the All-Australian team as well as the 22Under22 side.”
Asked whether Elliott would move into the midfield in coming years, Pendlebury said:
“He’s too good up forward, so I don’t think we want him in the midfield… I think he could add a bit to our midfield as well, but I reckon he’ll be almost like a 50-50 type.”
After arriving at Collingwood via pick 65 in the 2013 National Draft, Langdon emerged sooner than many expected. He was one of the Magpies’ best players in the Round 1 loss to the Dockers, gathering 24 possessions and showing the maturity of a 200-gamer. He became a staple of Collingwood’s defence as the season wore on.
Pendlebury said: “As a bloke and a footballer, he’s just composed. He’s got a great sort of personality for AFL football. He’s very relaxed, doesn’t get too flustered – nothing’s ever as good as it seems or as bad as it seems, and that’s why he’s been so good.”
The 209cm 21-year-old emerged as the Magpies’ first-choice ruckman, surpassing impressive youngster Brodie Grundy in the process. Witts has played 19 games throughout 2014, the most of any ruckman aged 22 or under competition-wide, averaging 18 hitouts and 10 disposals per match.
The key defender was unlucky to miss selection in the 22Under22 squad, but showed he’s more than capable of making the grade at AFL level throughout 2014. Frost has played 21 games so far in a season in which many of the Pies’ more experienced defenders – players such as Nick Maxwell, Nathan Brown and Ben Reid – have missed games through injury.
Pendlebury said: “As a bloke, he’s pretty quiet and pretty reserved but his confidence has been growing now that he’s getting exposure. He’s got the confidence in himself that he can play well at the senior level and is coming out of himself more and more. As a player, he just does his role. That’s all that’s needed. He sort of reminds me a bit of Presti – that iron-fist type bloke down in defence.”
The classy defender has played all but one game since working his way into the Collingwood side in Round 7, averaging close to 18 possessions per match and providing plenty of run out of the backline. With 36 games under his belt, and still just 21 years of age, Williams is one to watch in 2015.
Pendlebury said: “As a bloke, he’s a real sort of honest guy. What you see is what you get with Marls – he’s obviously had a tough time this year with what he’s gone through, but his character is first class. I really rate him as a bloke and as a future leader of our footy club. As a player, he’s been awesome ever since he’s come into the senior side. His confidence has grown and grown and I think he’ll be a future leader at the footy club.”
The former Giant took some time to cement his spot in the Collingwood side, but then settled into a vein of form that suggests he’ll be one to keep an eye on in 2015 and beyond.
Pendlebury said: “Tay has impressed me since day one. Since he arrived at the footy club he’s impressed everyone with how hard he works and is going to be a ten-year plus player for the footy club.”
The final 22Under22 team will be announced at the AFL Players’ MVP Awards on Tuesday, September 9. You can vote for Elliott, Langdon and Witts by selecting your 22Under22 team here.