Craig McRae looks on during Collingwood's official team photo day at AIA Centre on February 8, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Ins and outs


Harry DeMattia (No.25 draft pick), Jack Bytel (SSP, St Kilda), Josh Eyre (SSP, Collingwood VFL), Lachie Schultz (trade, Fremantle), Lachie Sullivan (SSP, Footscray VFL) Tew Jiath (No.37 draft pick)


Taylor Adams (trade, Sydney), Trent Bianco (delisted), Arlo Draper (delisted), Jack Ginnivan (trade, Hawthorn), Will Kelly (delisted), Cooper Murley (delisted), Trey Ruscoe (delisted), Tom Wilson (delisted)

Medical room

Dan McStay is three months on from an ACL tear but won't play much of a role in 2024, if any role at all. Josh Daicos has been hampered by a calf issue but banked some important minutes against North Melbourne in Wednesday's match sim. Brody Mihocek had off-season calf surgery and has been on a modified program for most of the summer but is expected to face Richmond next week. Nathan Murphy doesn't have a return date and is a great unknown right now, making the defender hard to plan for, while SSP signing Josh Eyre (hamstring) and first-round pick Harry DeMattia (finger) will be sidelined for the next few months.

Harry DeMattia in action during Collingwood's training session at Gosch's Paddock on November 27, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Three burning questions

Can Collingwood do what they haven't done in nearly 90 years? 
The Magpies haven't gone back-to-back since iconic figure Jock McHale was still coach in 1935 and 1936. Only four teams have done it in the AFL era – Richmond 2019/20, Hawthorn 2013-15, Brisbane 2001-03 and Adelaide 1997/98 – it is very hard to do. Collingwood has enjoyed a fairytale ride under Craig McRae, winning 38 of 51 games under the 50-year-old. Can 'Fly' keep that remarkable winning percentage going in 2024 and propel the Magpies all the way again? History tells us how hard it is to do. 

How will Collingwood replace Dan McStay? 
Dan McStay didn't play in last year's Grand Final and missed more than three months in the middle of last season, but the former Lion showed his quality by kicking multiple goals in eight of his final nine appearances last year. Ash Johnson and Reef McInnes have gone head-to-head for the spot all pre-season, while Nathan Kreuger has returned to full fitness and is another option. The Magpies have used a smaller mix around Brody Mihocek in the past and may do the same again.

Is Fin Macrae ready to become a permanent fixture in 2024?
Craig McRae was quizzed about Fin Macrae more than any other player last year, despite the fact the midfielder only played one senior game after just two in 2022. But with Taylor Adams moving to Sydney, a spot is up for grabs in Collingwood's midfield rotation and Macrae has shown he is primed to grab it this summer. The former first-round pick has been one of the best performers on the track and starred in the intraclub.

Track watch

Isaac Quaynor hasn't rested on his laurels after producing a breakout season last year. The star defender inked a five-year contract in January and could be an All-Australian by September, after being picked in the 44-man squad last year. Fin Macrae has been a standout, while the quality of Jordan De Goey's pre-season has flown under the radar, just the way the Pies like it. Reef McInnes has been one of the big improvers at the club as he fights for greater opportunity in his fourth season. Pat Lipinski is back to his best after navigating around two shoulder reconstructions since the end of the 2022 season. 

Isaac Quaynor in action during Collingwood's training session at AIA Centre on February 14, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Fantasy lock

Who else but Nick Daicos (DEF/MID, $982,000)? Daicos averaged 108.8 in 2023 and started the year on fire, averaging 122.2 in his first six games. The Magpies' round five bye, and their tough start to the season, has some deciding to wait for Daicos until later in the year, but if you're happy to ignore that, lock him in from the start.


Instant hit

Jack Ginnivan was a fan favourite, but Lachie Schultz will provide the Magpies' attack with a different dimension. The former Docker started pre-season early and banked almost the full program before a minor leg issue last week prevented him from playing in the intraclub. The gun forward featured against North Melbourne on Wednesday and will add to a mix that saw Bobby Hill not only become a regular AFL player in 2023 after moving from Greater Western Sydney, but a Norm Smith Medallist.

It's a big year for…

John Noble was forced to watch on from afar last September, missing out on winning the ultimate prize in one of the tough calls Collingwood made in the finals. The South Australian played 83 consecutive games before being dropped ahead of the qualifying final against Melbourne. Noble had to watch on again in the preliminary final win over Greater Western Sydney and the Grand Final win over Brisbane. The small defender has banked a full pre-season and will be out to atone in 2024.

John Noble and Nick Daicos hug after the 2023 Grand Final between Collingwood and Brisbane at the MCG. Picture: AFL Photos

Pass mark

It is hard to go back-to-back, but this stacked outfit should be in the hunt come the penultimate weekend of the season at a minimum.

Best 23 for 2024

B: Jeremy Howe, Nathan Murphy, Isaac Quaynor
HB: Brayden Maynard, Darcy Moore, Jack Crisp
C: Steele Sidebottom, Jordan De Goey, Josh Daicos
HF: Lachie Schultz, Ash Johnson, Pat Lipinski
F: Jamie Elliott, Brody Mihocek, Bobby Hill
Foll: Darcy Cameron, Nick Daicos, Scott Pendlebury
I/C: Mason Cox, Tom Mitchell, Beau McCreery, Fin Macrae, Oleg Markov
Emerg: John Noble, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Reef McInnes, Billy Frampton