Hugh McCluggage during the round 22 AFL match between St Kilda and Brisbane on August 12, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

In the next instalment of our 'steal one player' series we take a look at four potential targets for Collingwood and reach a verdict on who their dream recruit would be.

This exercise looks at the list needs for all 18 AFL teams and names four dream recruits that club could hypothetically 'steal' if salary caps and contracts were removed.

For Collingwood, they were one of the busiest clubs this off-season, bidding farewell to Brodie Grundy and Oliver Henry as they hunted four new targets through the trade and free agency period.

The Magpies added Brownlow Medal winner Tom Mitchell, Lions key forward Daniel McStay, Giants livewire Bobby Hill and Adelaide tall Billy Frampton for next season, while the likes of Edward Allen, Jakob Ryan and Joe Richards also joined Craig McRae's list through the National Draft.

While Collingwood managed a preliminary final finish in 2022, falling just one kick shy of a grand final berth, the Magpies have a number of areas that require some extra focus from their list management team.

Here we take a look at which list holes the Pies could fill, the players that could help them, and the club's ideal recruit ahead of the 2023 season.

List Needs

An area the Magpies have made clear they're keen to adjust is their ruck stocks, with young West Adelaide ruckman Oscar Steene and 204cm retired volleyballer Max Guehrer both training for a list spot this summer.

While Darcy Cameron will resume his as McRae's first-string ruckman, a potential partner for the former Swan might be needed given Mason Cox's inconsistent form and age, with the tall Magpie turning 32 ahead of his side's season opener against Geelong next year.

Either a recognised full-time ruckman or a tall that can swing forward would be ideal for the Magpies, giving Cameron the chance to either slot forward himself or shed some of the workload as part of a shared tandem.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25: Darcy Cameron of the Magpies celebrates a goal during the 2022 AFL Round 06 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Collingwood Magpies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 25, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Key position areas at either end of the field are other aspects the Pies could improve on, perhaps looking to the future for their defence.

With Jeremy Howe nearing the end of his career, a formidable successor to the high-flying Magpie might be of interest to Collingwood recruiters in this hypothetical situation.

An intercepting option that can work in-between star pair Darcy Moore and Brayden Maynard that also has a few years left in their prime might just be the difference for Collingwood next year.

At the other end of the ground, another key forward asset that would significantly sharpen Collingwood's spear would be an astute option.

While McStay joins the fold and Ash Johnson looks to press his case for greater opportunities in 2023, another key forward to work alongside Brody Mihocek and allow Darcy Cameron to ruck full-time would work wonders for the Magpies.

Perhaps a more athletic option that can push further up the field, allowing the likes of McStay, Mihocek and Jamie Elliott to stay deep and await for a counterattack.

As far as Collingwood's midfield, the Magpies have enough grunt in the engine room thanks to the addition of the aforementioned Mitchell, as well as Taylor Adams, Patrick Lipinski, Jack Crisp and emerging star Nick Daicos, among others.

But a star outside midfielder certainly wouldn't go astray, with the Pies perhaps needing to find someone to replace Steele Sidebottom on the wing and pair with breakout father-son gun Josh Daicos.

A wide midfielder that can also roam through the middle might be atop Collingwood's wishlist.

Taking the above in mind, here are four steal options for the Magpies...



1. Max Gawn

If you're scattering the league for a top ruckman, it's hard to look past the Demons skipper.

A move from Melbourne to Collingwood would see the bearded All-Australian practically swap places with new teammate Brodie Grundy, who secured a move to the red and blue this season.

If Gawn was to head the other way, the 2021 premiership captain would instantly give Collingwood's fleet of midfielders great access to the Sherrin and place the Magpies even closer to the premiership next season.

With Darcy Cameron still in the mix, Gawn and be utilised as a forward target in a similar role he was called into when sharing the ruck work with Luke Jackson.

Gawn is also a great threat to throw behind the ball when the game is on the line, a situation the Magpies found themselves in on countless occasions this year.

While Gawn only has a handful of seasons left in the league, he'll be a more-than-formidable option for the Magpies to recruit before they find their next first-string tall.