BRAYDEN Maynard does not like being beaten.

Whether it's in the increasingly heated series of Call of Duty battles with his Collingwood teammates in the Perth hub, by loud-mouthed tradies in utes, or by some of the game's most fearsome small forwards on the footy field, Maynard doesn't take kindly to losing.

Especially not on the footy field.

"It's something that makes me angry," the Collingwood defender tells AFL.com.au.

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Fortunately, for both the talented Maynard and the Magpies backline as a collective, it doesn't happen too often. In fact, it's barely happened at all so far this season.

That's on the footy field at least. Don't ask about what happens in the games room at the Joondalup Resort Hotel, where Collingwood's players have been spending their free time in quarantine rigorously fighting it out in games of Call of Duty, NBA 2K and FIFA.

On the park is where it matters most for Maynard. And it's where he is producing career-best numbers across the board.

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According to Champion Data, the 23-year-old is rated 'elite' for disposals, uncontested possessions and metres gained so far this season. He's also rated 'above average' for contested possessions and intercept possessions.

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It's why he is being seriously considered as a candidate for a maiden Virgin Australia AFL All-Australian guernsey, potentially taking the coveted small defender spot on the back of his drastic improvement from last season.

"I do feel like I'm playing my best footy," Maynard says.

"There are a few games here or there where I haven't really been happy with my performance, even though I've come out with 20-odd disposals and a few intercept marks.

"I really narrow my game down to defence and how my opponent impacts the game. For example, the game against GWS. Toby Greene probably got best-on. I had a role on him, so to not get that done … I've got a bit of white line fever, so I personally hate that."

Greene had 19 disposals and three goals that night, as the Giants crept over the line in a thrilling two-point win. But that's not to say Maynard didn't have his own impact on the contest, winning 23 disposals himself in a gripping individual battle between the two stars.

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That's also not to say Maynard won't keep putting his hand up to play on the game's very best small forwards each and every match.

The very next week after his contest with Greene, Maynard manned Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. Last week, he was up against the in-form Chad Wingard. He kept the dangerous Hawk goalless from just 10 disposals.

"You can do all of the prep, the research, watch the clips … but it basically does come down to game day," Maynard says.

"Because they're such elite players – Toby being one of them – they can do anything. They can rock up and kick a few goals and before you know it, your head is in your hands and you don't know what to do.

"But I do back myself and I back what I do during the week. I get on the computer, watch the games, watch what they did the week before at stoppages … whatever it is, if it's a position where I'll need to stop them then I'll watch it."

So, Gary Ablett this Thursday night then?

"If I have to, I will … that's what I do," Maynard says sternly. 

Maynard

2020 Avg.

2020 Rating

2020 Normalised*

2019 Avg.

2019 Rating

AFL Player Ratings

9.8

Elite

12.3

8.3

Average

Disposals

21.7

Elite

27.1

18.9

Above Average

Contested Poss.

6.2

Above Average

7.8

5.0

Average

Uncontested Poss.

13.3

Elite

16.6

12.8

Above Average

Metres Gained

455

Elite

569

394

Above Average

Intercept Possessions

6.3

Above Average

7.9

4.5

Below Average

Kick Rating

+8.3%

Elite

-

+5.3%

Elite

*Normalised numbers are multiplied by 1.25 to account for the shorter game time in the wake of the COVID-19 suspension period.

The fact Maynard is getting his hands on the footy more frequently this year – averaging 21.7 disposals per game this season, despite shortened quarters, compared to just 18.9 touches per game last campaign – is significant in many ways for Collingwood.

But the most important reason why is that he is undoubtedly one of the team's, if not the League's, most efficient ball users.

Champion Data classifies both his kick rating of +8.3 per cent, as well as his metres gained stats of 455m per match, as 'elite'. It means he is in the top 10 per cent in the AFL for each category, highlighting why it is so crucial for the Pies to get the ball in his possession.

And, if Maynard has anything to say about it, that could be happening more often in the future, with the young defender eyeing a midfield move in the coming years.

"I feel like I am maturing with everything I'm doing, so who knows?" Maynard says.

"Hopefully in the coming years, I can move into the midfield and make an impact there.

"The backline is something I've been doing for quite a while now, so I'm going to look to be able to get into the midfield. It's just a matter of time until that happens."

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A bash-and-crash midfielder who can use the footy as effectively as Maynard does? It's a daunting prospect for rival teams planning for the future. Perhaps just as daunting as the drive down Olympic Boulevard during Collingwood training sessions.

Last month, as the Pies enjoyed an otherwise low-key Wednesday morning on the track, the club's social media team posted a rather nondescript 16-second video of players doing some routine groundball drills.

Only the video quickly went viral.

If you'd just watched the first 15 seconds, you wouldn't know why. It was the last moment of the video, where Maynard flipped the bird in the direction of the traffic and yelled "piss off idiot" that had Pies fans instantly retweeting and sharing with their mates.

"There's bloody heaps of people that come past training in their cars," Maynard laughs.

"Sometimes they're young P-Platers in their utes and in their tradie gear. They just hurl abuse at us, so I just thought I'd tell them where to go.

"It was quite funny that they got it on film. But as I say, I've got a bit of white line fever."

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There's that white line fever again.

So, if it comes out on the footy field and it comes out on the training track, surely it's also extending to those Call of Duty battles with his Collingwood teammates over in Western Australia?

"Definitely," Maynard says.

"I haven't broken a remote yet, but I'm close."