AMID the many storylines of Collingwood's strong start to life under coach Craig McRae has perhaps been one that has gone somewhat under the radar: the career-best form of wingman Josh Daicos.
While attention has been heaped onto his younger brother Nick for his hot beginning to life as an AFL player at the Pies, Josh's impact has also been profound after finding his way back onto the wing and hitting the scoreboard.
In 2020, Daicos' breakout year that saw him play every game for the Pies and also kick the goal of the year for his boundary-line banana, he settled into the wing position and found his groove. But an interrupted pre-season heading into last year made 2021 more challenging and he was moved in multiple spots.
"Unfortunately, last year I had my pre-season interrupted by hip surgery and I couldn't get any continuity with my body and I really struggled going into games. This year I was able to do a little bit of pilates and feel good with a bit more recovery and I feel really good with my body. I'm really excited about what this group can do," Daicos told AFL.com.au.
Continuity in position has also been a factor.
"I'm sure a little bit that would have to do with it, positionally, but I think more so it's about getting my body right and feeling good," Daicos said.
"Last year 'Bucks' (former coach Nathan Buckley) put me in a position to succeed all year I just unfortunately didn't play my best and this year I'm feeling good and luckily reaping the rewards right now."
Daicos has averaged a career-high 22 disposals in the opening seven rounds of the season and was again among Collingwood's best in last week's win over Gold Coast with 20 disposals and two goals.
He has kicked six goals for the season, well on track to surpass his previous best season tally of 10 two years ago.
"It's nice to get on the end of them and finish them," he said.
Goalkicking, clearly, comes in the blood for Daicos, whose father Peter booted 549 goals in his memorable 250-game career with Collingwood.
Josh joined the Pies via a late father-son pick in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, establishing himself bit-by-bit. He has played every game this season so far with Nick, who is the Rising Star favourite after a brilliant opening to his career at the top level having been a widely hyped junior.
Josh said it had been a pleasure playing with his brother in the same team for the first time.
"It's been awesome. He's a little bit cheeky, I have to whip him into line sometimes. Nah it's a joy, he trains really hard and works really hard and we spent a lot of time in the off-season training together so it's great to be able to share the rewards of being able to play together," he said.
The pair still live together, they warm up at games together and on Anzac Day were lined up alongside each other during the pre-match ceremony. It's only natural that that synchronicity extends to them finding each other with the ball.
"After the game sometimes we see we've done it but we've just got such a good connection that we know where we both are and we've always had really close bond which helps out there. We've enjoyed it so far," Daicos said.