Collingwood brought back one of its favourite sons last off-season in 2010 premiership hero Dayne Beams.
The All-Australian midfielder was identified as the cream of the crop to round out one of the greatest midfielders ever assembled and help take Nathan Buckley’s side one step further in 2019.
Beams has struggled to make an impact for the Pies in his eight games this season. In a parallel universe where all of Collingwood’s onballers were at their best, the black and white could have been near unstoppable.
However, Beams looked a shadow of his former self, eclipsing 30 disposals on just two occasions and booting a total of five goals. His pressure act numbers sit outside the top 100 of midfielders and his 2.1 tackles per game marked the lowest of his career.
This was not the Beams that the Collingwood faithful knew and loved or the one that dominated them last year in round seven with 31 disposals and two goals as the opposition skipper.
But it was revealed on Tuesday night that the 29-year had been playing through hip problems that required surgery, likely ending his season.
And his injury could not have been any clearer in the Pies’ loss to Fremantle last Saturday, where he looked heavy, lethargic and struggled to chase or apply pressure, gathering a season-low 14 disposals.
Meanwhile, forgotten Magpie Brayden Sier recorded 34 possessions, laid five tackles and booted a goal in the VFL the following day. While a player of Beams’ ilk is irreplaceable, the man known as the ‘Bear’ can seriously help cover the loss.
Sier was taken with the Pies’ first pick, No. 32, in the 2015 AFL draft. For so long it looked like Derek Hine and his recruiting team had made a rare blunder with an early pick on draft night. The youngster didn’t show much in his first couple of seasons, failing to play a senior game and questions were raised of his attitude.
In 2018, Sier was banging down the door with consistent performances in the VFL. However, with the senior team performing so well, the big-bodied midfielder didn’t get his AFL chance until round 15 to replace the double hamstrung Adam Treloar.
But when Sier did get his opportunity, he took it with both hands. A strong bull that could crash packs, had clean hands and was hard to tackle, Sier added something new to Collingwood’s midfield. He would go on to play 12 of the Pies’ final 13 games through the finals series, averaging 19.5 disposals and 4.6 tackles per contest.
The 21-year old is yet to play a senior game this season, hampered by injuries and a victim of Collingwood’s deep midfield. But just as he came in to replace Treloar last year, Sier has a another significant role to play in 2019.
Likened to Swans co-captain Josh Kennedy by Garry Lyon and constantly being linked to other clubs to receive more opportunities, there are understandably big wraps on this kid both inside and outside the club.
“He’s been made to earn his spot back, he’s a very good player and is well respected among the playing group. It’s up to him to take that (opportunity) and make sure he doesn’t miss another game for the rest of the year,” fellow injured Magpie Taylor Adams told AFL.com.au on Wednesday.
“He did exactly the same thing last year – he came in this time and had a great impact for us.”
Collingwood’s midfield lacked toughness and defensive pressure against the Dockers, the very thing Sier provides. While the likes of Treloar, Steele Sidebottom, Chris Mayne and Tom Phillips are all great midfielders, they don’t hunt the contested footy like Sier. And with Adams sidelined, someone needs to get their hands dirty.
Sier is exactly the man the Pies need to come come in and bang heads with hard nut Demons Jack Viney and Clayton Oliver on the Queen’s Birthday stage. He doesn’t necessarily need to rack up 25 disposals, just bring heat and a hard edge to the contest.
Yes, Beams was a worthwhile addition to the Holden Centre to add star power, but Collingwood had a young gem at their disposal all along. Beams could yet come back better than ever, but this is Sier’s time to shine. When one door closes, another opens, and the Bear will be unleashed on Monday.