TRAVIS Varcoe's old Geelong teammates Corey Enright and Max Rooke ventured into making and selling trendy T-shirts a few years ago.
After Thursday night’s match at Domain Stadium, they might want to design one for their now-Magpie mate with the words: "I beat Balla and loved it!"
The transformation of Varcoe from silky outside midfielder at Geelong into hard-nosed Collingwood defender continued with an outstanding display in his 150th match, the Pies’ seven-point loss to Fremantle on Thursday night.
Five talking points: Fremantle v Collingwood
Varcoe kept the pesky Fremantle forward to just eight possessions and one goal in one of the performances of his career. It was his 12th match for the Pies since leaving Geelong at the end of last season.
Given the Cats' history with Ballantyne – think the Matthew Scarlett straight left at the then-Patersons Stadium, Paul Chapman being felled behind play by the Docker at the same venue, Steve Johnson’s numerous clashes with him – Varcoe, remarkably, said he liked the experience.
"He’s a good little player Ballantyne and I really enjoy playing on him," Varcoe said.
"He's really smart and very explosive and was a really good challenge for me. It's something I'll probably go back and have a look at on Monday and see where I can get better."
Varcoe swore there had been no shenanigans between him and Ballantyne, who is a fine footballer and key plank in Fremantle’s flag push in 2015, but is known to try to get under the skin of his opponents.
"No, not at all. I don't try and get into that sort of stuff," Varcoe said.
"He is one of those players that irritates a lot of people but I had a job to do and I just tried to stick to that.
"That sort of stuff doesn’t faze me too much."
Varcoe said he was loving his time at Collingwood and his role in the young defence.
"You never stop learning, if you do the competition goes straight by you and you get found out," he said.
"The demand down there from 'Goldy' (Tyson Goldsack) and 'Browny' (Nathan Brown) has been first class. Age is no cop-out, you've got to get out there.
"Once you get out there no one thinks about that. You've just got to do your job, beat your man, do the team stuff and the result takes care of itself.”