NICK Daicos admits he is going to have split loyalties at the MCG on Thursday night.
The son of Collingwood champion Peter, and brother of current emerging star Josh, who played for the Magpies' VFL side last year and will join the club at the end of this season via the NAB AFL Draft is a Carlton supporter. And no, that's not a typo.
"I can't wait. I probably can't give you a team that I want to win, I'll just sit on the fence and hope for a good game," Daicos said ahead of the clash between the Blues and Magpies.
Daicos, 18, is one of the genuine standout players of this year's draft crop, a fact underlined by his debut at VFL level in a practice match last week against the Western Bulldogs and was close to best afield.
The Pies will get first access to him, have cleared the deck of early picks to manage their points to pay for him and have had him train at the club once a week for the past six weeks. But he grew up a Carlton fan, aided by a former rival of his father, 250-gamer and 1990 premiership star Peter.
"Marc Murphy was always my favourite player growing up and we played local footy with the Silvagnis and they got me to run out with the team, they got me a jumper, a locker, so it was an easy option for me," he said.
But Daicos knows where his future lies. He will spend this season flipping between playing for the Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League, which starts next week, and Collingwood's VFL side. The impressive teenager credited his older brother Josh for his development, and said he hopes to join him at the Pies.
"It would obviously be an unbelievable experience. We've done a lot of work together and seeing him play now has been really special so to play alongside him has always been a dream and hopefully that can come to fruition in the next 12 months," Daicos said.
Nathan Buckley recently told AFL.com.au that Daicos would be very close to playing at senior level right now for the Pies if he was able to be picked, and his performance last Friday vindicated the hype with Daicos putting in a stellar showing. He dazzled from half-back with his skills on both sides of the body, baulked several opponents and had the confidence to take on the game and set up the play despite being matched up by a number of AFL-listed Bulldogs.
"It was my first game in 21 months so the six weeks at Collingwood doing a bit of match sim really helped. It even settled the nerves going into the VFL game, I knew I was pretty well prepared throughout the last six weeks training at the top level so that was great and a great experience to settle me," he said.
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"I learnt a lot from playing VFL and it was a big step up. I took a few things that I can take from the game and can work on, so it was a really good experience for me."
Tipped as a potential top pick at this year's pool, with the added spotlight of being a prized father-son selection, means Daicos will begin his draft season with plenty of expectations. But he said he was ready for what was to come and is confident he will show what he has.
"I don't really see it as pressure. I've got a support network that allows me to just play my game and they're always there for me through the ups and downs. I put a lot of pressure on myself so the external pressure never really exceeds the expectation I have for myself," he said.
"To be honest I've always just felt as another player. People talk about it, but to me I just feel that as soon as I get out on the park I'm another player and my surname is not really relevant as long as I can do what I know I can do and that's play footy. I'm pretty confident that the rest will take care of itself."