AAP AFL

Sidebottom, Magpies primed for AFL restart

By AAP Newswire

Star Collingwood midfielder Steele Sidebottom believes the Magpies' list is in the perfect position to take down any team in the AFL.

Richmond will enter Thursday night's MCG clash as favourites as they restart their mission for back-to-back premierships.

But confidence within Collingwood ranks has only strengthened since returning to the Holden Centre following the two-month competition shutdown.

After late-September heartbreak in 2018 and 2019, the Magpies are primed for another assault at winning their first flag in 10 years.

"I'm obviously closer to the end than the start, but we've got a good mix of older guys, then the guys in that middle bracket and guys pushing from the bottom," Sidebottom told AAP.

"We're in a pretty good position as a playing group. We've put in a good little block post-shutdown period and I'm confident in the group we've got.

"If we play our best footy there's no reason why I think we can't beat all teams to be honest."

Collingwood are accustomed performing in front of big crowds almost weekly, but Sidebottom says the Magpies are embracing the empty stadiums era.

It worked for them in March when they destroyed the Western Bulldogs by 52 points with a scintillating performance at Marvel Stadium.

"Once you're out there in the heat of it, you tend to forget about the crowd a little bit," the two-time Copeland Trophy winner said.

"We hadn't won a round one game for a number of years so to play the way we did and what followed with the game and our team song, it was actually a bloody enjoyable night.

"The teams that have adapted (to the dramatically altered AFL) will come out on top.

"I feel that what our club has put in place for the boys away from the footy club has been really beneficial."

It's a far more settled club than during a trying period from 2014 to 2017 when coach Nathan Buckley had to fight to retain his job.

"I feel like back then us as a playing group sort of let the coaching staff down," Sidebottom said.

"We were playing really inconsistent footy. In the AFL, if you're players aren't performing then usually it all falls on the coach.

"It's more the coaching staff that lead us now. It's not just one bloke that stands up the front.

"It's not just Bucks we hear from, they spread the load and do a great job."

Before Sidebottom and Collingwood take on the Tigers, the 29-year-old will be the Magpies' representative in Monday's FightMND Big Freeze.

Normally held at the MCG before the Pies' Queen's Birthday match against Melbourne, a player from all 18 clubs will be filmed doing the ice challenge in isolation.

"I really don't do too many ice baths, I'm not a big fan of the cold water, but when I was asked I was more than happy to do it for a great cause," Sidebottom said.