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Pre-season guide: Collingwood

Quinten Lynch and Ben Hudson are among the new arrivals at Collingwood - ${keywords}
Quinten Lynch and Ben Hudson are among the new arrivals at Collingwood
Collingwood's pre-Christmas period is now well established, with the trip to high altitude training a permanent part of the fixture. This year the Magpies travelled to Park City, Utah, instead of Flagstaff, Arizona, for a camp that lasted for 16 days. The majority of senior players, new draftees and recruits were able to attend, with captain Nick Maxwell, Alan Toovey, Alan Didak, Dale Thomas and Tyson Goldsack the only regulars remaining in Melbourne. Collingwood walked up Jupiter Peak in freezing conditions and was able to complete football training as well as boxing, gym work and time with the US Ski and Snowboard Association Elite Training Centre. After shocking bad luck with injury last year the Magpies have three players returning in 2013 from knee reconstructions, while recruit Clinton Young has had a delayed start to pre-season due to a foot injury. They are all progressing well. The Magpies still consider themselves premiership contenders and have recruited well, introducing 12 new players via free agency, the NAB AFL Draft and the Rookie Draft as it regenerates the list.

Break: Players departed on December 21 and will return on January 8.

Draftee watch: This pre-season the Magpies had the chance to take its new draft picks on the high altitude camp, providing the players with a great opportunity to integrate into the group. Brodie Grundy was Collingwood's first selection and although it is likely the young ruckman will be given time to develop he has the talent to play senior football immediately. Jackson Ramsey has been rooming with fellow defender Nathan Brown as he settles in to Melbourne after moving from Perth, and learning about how Brown prepares to play. The Magpies never set limits on players, with seven players making their debut in 2012, so anything is possible from the new arrivals.

Burning: Collingwood did not want to individualise, but from teammates say Dane Swan has attacked this pre-season with even more vigour – if that is possible – than normal. Jarrod Witts is a youngster with a bright future who continues to develop physically, while Harry O'Brien is setting himself for a big season as he is now 26 and about to enter the peak of his career.

Medical room:  Thomas and Goldsack had ankle operations in November and are expected to return to full training in January. Andrew Krakouer returned from a knee reconstruction late last season and has had a strong pre-season, and was able to join teammates in Utah. Luke Ball and Brent Macaffer are on track for round one after early season knee reconstructions while Lachlan Keeffe, who injured his knee in round nine in late May, will return just before mid-year. Marley Williams has recovered from his season-ending shoulder injury in round 15. Young, who arrived from Hawthorn via free agency, had surgery on his foot nine weeks ago. He has been running on Alter-G treadmill but went for his first run off the treadmill in Utah. The long kicking left-footer aims to be part of full training in early January.

What they say: "It's the first time we've been to Utah, so there is always a bit of the unknown in terms of whether the facility is similar to what they have been used to in Arizona but we could not have been happier with the facility and the surrounds. The boys typically attack this training phase really well and they have done the same again." – Geoff Walsh,  director of football

NAB Cup schedule:
Round one: v Essendon and Western Bulldogs, Etihad Stadium, Friday, February 15
Round two: v West Coast Eagles, Patersons Stadium, Sunday, March 3
Round three: v Adelaide, AAMI Stadium, Saturday, March 9
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs