Derek Hine and his recruiting team at Collingwood have successfully negotiated the trade and draft period once again.

Collingwood finished the season in fourth, with a loss to eventual premiers Sydney in the preliminary final. It was a disappointing finish to an up and down season, the first under new coach Nathan Buckley.

Hine, coach Buckley and the team quickly set about rejuvenating the list. Buckley made it known that underperformers would need to go. The club suffered heavily from injuries and various suspensions through the season which slowly tarnished the Magpies’ premiership chances.

The first act was the trade and free agency period. From the word go, Collingwood announced their intentions to play hard.

The club coaxed West Coast forward Quinten Lynch to move to the Westpac Centre as an unrestricted free agent within the first few days of the period’s begininng. Lynch was brought in to play the famed ‘Leigh Brown role’ which helped Collingwood win the 2010 premiership.

Brown of course had retired after the 2011 Grand Final and Collingwood had tried to mould Chris Dawes into a similar player. This was very unsuccessful. Dawes had a season to forget. In 23 games he managed just 16 goals which for a key forward is deploreable while other aspects of his game were also down on their average from the previous year.

Dawes started the 2011 season on fire before a broken knuckle kept him on the sidelines for four matches. It is fair to say he hasn’t been the same player since that injury. Midway through the 2012 season, many Collingwood fans started calling for his head and his confidence hit rock bottom. Nowhere better was it expressed as when he dropped a simple chest mark in Collingwood’s loss to North Melbourne, leaving Nathan Buckley speachless.

Lynch’s arrival at the club opened the door for Dawes to leave. He took the opportunity and joined Melbourne for Pick 20 in the national draft, which was later dropped to Pick 19 due to the breach of Adelaide’s salary cap. It was a win-win scenario for both clubs: Collingwood gets another youngster and a direct replacement while Melbourne get what they have been craving for so long while also picking up an experienced finals player, an invaluable asset.

Next was Sharrod Wellingham announcing his intentions to return home to Western Australia. The 24-year old played in Collingwood’s premiership team in 2010 and a regular but wasn’t irreplaceable in the side. Both parties swooped and Wellingham joined the West Coast Eagles for Pick 17.

Later on in the free agency period, Collingwood picked up Hawthorn’s running defender Clinton Young. While not  direct replacement for Wellingham, Young injects much needed speed into a Collingwood line up that struggled at times in 2012 to get the ball off of the half back line.

Add to this the inclusion of Luke Ball who was cruely cut down by a ruptured ACL early in the season and the emergence of Dayne Beams as a ball winner and Collingwood look to have a scary midfield. Now what was needed is depth.

Collingwood adressed part of this issue by trading in Jordan Russell. The former Carlton defender had his confidence shot by the Blues and was looking for a new start. Russell obviously had the talent, finishing runner up to Chris Judd in Carlton’s 2010 best and fairest. The Magpies then traded away youngster Tom Young to the Bulldogs, who had little chance of breaking into such a strong Collingwood outfit.

Hine and co. then set about clearing away the ‘dead wood’. Chris Tarrant had already left the club through retirement while the majority of the rookie list waas freed up. Fan ‘favourites’ (insert sarcasm here) Cameron Wood and Simon Buckley joined three others in being delisted from the main list.

The Collingwood recruiting team obviously realised that this years draft would be shallow and used all of their four picks inside the top 40 and then fled. Arguably one of the steals of the draft was of South Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy, who slipped to Pick 18 at Collingwood.

This ensured that Collingwood’s ruck division would be strong for at least another 10 years with the impending retirement of Darren Jolly, Grundy joined the highy touted Jarrod Witts. Former Crows, Bulldog and Lion Ben Hudson would join the club via the rookie draft in December and would also take up the role of ruck coach, lending much-needed experience to the young guns.

Also joining the club would be Ben Kennedy, a small forward; Tim Broomhead, a midfielder; and Jackson Ramsay, a defender. All of these players look to have promising careers ahead of them.

Collingwood’s VFL team has struggled for many years and it has no doubt hindered the senior sides finals performances with no secondary side to pick players from. At the end of the trade period, Collingwood appointed Dale Tapping, former Sandringham Dragons TAC Cup coach as their new VFL coach, replacing Tarkyn Lockyer who would step down to a development role.

Tapping made it known that he wanted his side to be successful, not just to cop hidings every week and Derek Hine had this in his mind going into the rookie draft.

Collingwood picked up Frankston midfielder Kyle Martin, Port Melbourne mid Sam Dwyer and Williamstown defender Jack Frost to add to their rookie list. In previous seasons we have seen players like Michael Barlow, Sam Gibson and James Podsiadly complete the journey from the VFL to starring in the senior side.

On top of this, the Magpies also took home Queensland mature-aged rookie Adam Oxley while also adding former AIS baketballer Ben Richmond to the rookie list. Peter Yagmoor, who was previously delisted by the Pies was re-rookied under the rule known as the ‘Toby Thoolen Law’ to Collingwood supporters, who had the same thing happen to him.

Derek Hine stepped up to the senior recruiting role in 2005, replacing Noel Judkins who had to resign due to health problems. At the time not much was known about the then-fireman but these days he is known as one of the best of his job in the business.

In this off-season Collingwood have fixed their short and long term problems. Nathan Buckley has got everything he set out to get at the end of the season.

2013 is all set up for the Magpies, will they be able to conquer all before them?

Written by Sam Mills

19. Sports lover and aspiring journalist. Proud Melburnian. @OnlyMillsy on Twitter.

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