NOT FOR the first time this season, Collingwood needed a spark.

And, not for the first time this season, Collingwood called upon Josh Daicos to provide it.

His impact in Sunday's victory over Carlton wasn’t necessarily as eye-catching as it was in the club's win over Sydney earlier in the season. There was no miraculous snap reminiscent of his father's famous goal from the boundary, like there was against the Swans. But, in reality, his efforts were just as telling.

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Twelve of his disposals came in the second half when the Pies had fallen 10 points behind, while his crucial late goal put the result beyond the reach of the Blues. In helping to complete the comeback win, Daicos had once again proved a pivotal figure in ensuring Nathan Buckley's team remained entrenched in the finals picture.

Importantly, every one of those 12 second-half touches were clean, composed and crucial in a game that, to that point, had been played at a frenetic pace. But it was hardly a one-off. Rather, it was a performance that was entirely emblematic of Daicos' rapid rise this season.

From an OK junior prospect who didn't attract a father-son bid at the 2016 NAB AFL Draft until pick No.57, to a developing youngster that managed just 17 games in his first three seasons, Daicos has quickly become a key cog in a Magpies outfit that is gunning not only for a finals berth but perhaps another tilt at the premiership.

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In a Collingwood midfield that has been without the run of Adam Treloar, the class of Steele Sidebottom and the dynamism of Jordan De Goey for large parts of this season, Daicos' accelerated rate of improvement on a wing has been invaluable.

Daicos has averaged 20.8 disposals over his last five matches, while kicking goals in four of those games. Across that stretch, he has complemented the match-winning performances of more senior figures like Taylor Adams (against Sydney and Carlton) and Scott Pendlebury (against North Melbourne) as Collingwood has steadied a stuttering ship.

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But the form of the talented 21-year-old across the entirety of the campaign speaks more highly of his consistency and his growing reputation within the League as one of its brightest young stars.

Champion Data notes only minor, incremental improvements across the major statistical categories for Daicos this year. But they're significant in the sense that the numbers aren't normalised – meaning he is recording them in 16-minute quarters, and in games that are 25 percent shorter than in previous seasons.

All of that equates to Daicos notching an 'elite' rating – meaning he is in the top 10 percent of players for his position – for AFL Player Ratings and goals this season, while recording an 'above average' rating for disposals, uncontested possessions and score involvements.

"He's always had great talent," Buckley said of Daicos earlier this week.

"His kicking skills, in particular, but all of his disposals have always been at a very high level.

"Last year, his kicking efficiency was actually down. That's not a measure of skill as such, it's a measure of being able to handle the level and the pressure and the speed of decision-making that's required.

"He's always been a young player who has thought really well on his feet, but he's found an extra half-step now. He's been able to get used to the pace of the game. As soon as that occurred – and he had some really good moments over the last couple of years – but as soon as he's been able to do that consistently … we've seen him rise to another level again.

"Fitting into a team structure and being disciplined around that has been something that's really been a strongpoint of his season this year. It was something that was building over the last couple of years, but we now have a really good balance of him being predictable to his teammates but also letting his strengths show."

Josh Daicos

2017-2019 avg. (17 matches)

2020 avg. (13 Matches)

Wing Rating (2020) 

AFL Player Ratings

5.0

9.1

Elite

Disposals

15.4

16.9

Above Average

Contested Possessions

4.7

5.2

Average

Uncontested Possessions

10.8

11.6

Above Average

Metres Gained

213.1

242.4

Average

Score Involvements

3.2

3.3

Above Average

Total Goals

7

10

Elite

Those strengths are best displayed in his clean skills in pressure situations, his natural smarts with the footy and his striking ability to conjure something special when the situation arises. Remind you of anyone?

The son of 250-game Collingwood premiership legend Peter Daicos, it's hard not to see the similarities between the two. Perhaps it was just as hard not to draw premature comparisons, either, particularly in the early stages of his career.

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But the younger Daicos has found his niche. Having emerged as a lively small forward prospect through the Oakleigh Chargers talent pathway, it's on a wing where he is both thriving and helping to change the fortunes of Collingwood's 2020 season.

"He's now showing that creativity that we know all Daicos' possess," Buckley said.

"It's been a really positive and gradual build and development from a young player. I think we get a little bit carried away sometimes, thinking that things need to happen quicker, or just because they're the son-of that it's absolutely going to happen. There are no guarantees in anything at the elite level.

"Josh has made his own way and deserves all of the credit. He's put a lot of work in. His last two pre-seasons have been really strong and he's reaping the rewards of that."