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The 12th man mixing up the Magpies' middle

Magpie mania, Eagles fly out Thursday Footy Feed with Matt Thompson, Mitch Cleary and Cal Twomey

IN 2010, 20-year-old Jarryd Blair won a premiership with Collingwood in just his 12th match after bursting into the side at the halfway point of the season.

In Saturday's Grand Final, the 20-year-old Brayden Sier will line up for Collingwood in his 12th match.

Sier and Blair share few similarities as players.

Sier stands at 191cm, 17cm taller than Blair, but just as Blair's forward pressure made him crucial to Collingwood's 2010 side, Sier's contested game has helped free up more polished Magpie midfielders.

He's a modern-day, big-bodied midfielder in the mould of Patrick Cripps from Carlton and was compared to Sydney skipper Josh Kennedy by commentator Garry Lyon.

"He's got a lot of traits that should transfer to an AFL environment," Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said ahead of Sier's first game in late June.

After standing by the midfield bull through injuries to his wrist, back and head and a suspended fine for betting on football earlier this year, the Magpies' patience has been vindicated.

A healthy and hungry Sier made his debut in round 15 against Gold Coast and has since missed only one match, round 19 against Richmond when he was sidelined by a corked left quad.

After that game Sier came straight back into Collingwood's midfield, in which he has become a vital cog.

 

With the class of skipper Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom and the grunt of Taylor Adams and Adam Treloar, the Magpies engine-room is full of stars. 

Sier has found his niche and has established himself as a regular at Collingwood's centre bounce set-up.

Only ruckman Brodie Grundy, Pendlebury and Adams have attended more centre bounces than Sier since the 20-year-old's debut, ahead of Sidebottom, Levi Greenwood and Treloar, who missed a large chunk through injury.

The young man from the Northern Knights has complemented the proven stars, and for a player with his experience his statistics are very good.

He has the highest contested possession average (10.3) of the players aged under 21 in the AFL, the third-highest clearance average (3.6) and the fifth-highest disposal average (19.4 per game).

Sier's introduction to the Collingwood side has also allowed dynamic forwards Jordan De Goey and Josh Thomas to spend less time in the middle and more time closer to the big sticks.

In the first 14 rounds, Thomas attended 9.8 centre bounces per game, and De Goey was in the middle more than 10 times a game on average.

Since Sier's first game, Thomas' average has dropped to fewer than three per game and De Goey's to 4.4.

The pair have kicked 83 goals for the season, 48 of them since round 15.

Sier's opportunity may never have come if it wasn't for Treloar's double hamstring injury in round 14, but the two will line-up together on Saturday with a combined games experience of 151 matches.

"I've come in at that right time of year," Sier said to AFL.com.au earlier this month.

"It's always good to be playing football in September, you can smell the freshly cut grass of spring and it's been really good fun."