NEW COLLINGWOOD cult figure Jack Ginnivan has risen from anonymity to stardom in the first six weeks of 2022 by embracing the scrutiny that comes with being a pest.
The 19-year-old enhanced his reputation on Monday by winning the Anzac Day Medal in just his 10th game, kicking five goals to lead the Magpies to an 11-point win over arch rival Essendon at the MCG.
Ginnivan got under the skin of Essendon defenders for four quarters and enraged Bombers supporters with his provocative antics that have quickly become part of his package.
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Not many players have come under more scrutiny than the Bendigo product this season, with GoPro-gate leading to an almost weekly discussion around his choice of hair colour and ability to win free kicks close to goal.
Collingwood star Jack Crisp has been impressed with the way Ginnivan has absorbed the criticism and chosen to remain his authentic self.
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"It is probably challenging for himself mentally at times, but he's got great support with everyone at the footy club and us as well. Even if he was feeling bad, he doesn’t show it," Crisp told AFL.com.au.
"If he wants to be a pest or whatever it is, he embraces it and doesn’t let it show. He does a really good job.
"AFL can be brutal at times, but you've just got to be able to embrace it. He is a fella who is out and about, he is himself at the club as well. It's good to see the reward for effort, he is a very valuable asset for us and we saw that on show."
Collingwood ended a three-game losing streak on Anzac Day, levelling the win-loss ledger at 3-3 to finish round six in the top-eight, after finishing 17th in 2021.
"It is so early in the year that anything is possible. We started off really well, we fell off against West Coast and Geelong, but we've shown that we can match it against the best as well," Crisp said.
"We've just got to be able to play four quarters and turn our inside 50 and forward half territory dominance into scoreboard pressure."
Crisp has now played 169 games in succession – the longest current consecutive games streak in the AFL – including 163 of 163 since joining the Magpies as the steak knives in the deal that landed pick No. 5 and 25 in exchange for Dayne Beams.
The 28-year-old has spent even more time in the midfield under new coach Craig McRae than he did last year, averaging 25.8 disposals, 5.5 tackles and 4.5 clearances across the first six rounds.
"I'm happy with my form at the moment. I'm enjoying my midfield role, it's a great mix-up. I started a little bit down back as well, but I've been playing mid the past few weeks. I'm just happy to be playing any role for the team to be honest," he said.
"These are my two roles – midfield and half-back – so it is a good change up. We've got a great midfield mix and playing a different brand of football under 'Fly' (Craig McRae)."
After finishing third three times in the Copeland Trophy – and fourth in 2018 – Crisp achieved a longstanding personal goal by winning Collingwood's best and fairest for the first time in 2021.
"Personally, it was one of my goals I've always had, so to get that recognition, I was actually really proud of it. I have been consistent and that’s been well documented, but to get that reward was really good," he said.
"I want to bring the team up with me as well. We're doing the right job so far this year, hopefully we can continue to do that and hopefully I can continue to play consistent football."