On the attack: Versatile Magpie set to lead new-look forward line

ONE OF the most versatile players in the AFLW, star Magpie Chloe Molloy is set to start a season in a different position for the third time in four years.

Initially drafted as an equal-leading goalkicker in the VFLW, playing for Diamond Creek, Molloy started her AFLW career as a defender, winning the 2018 NAB AFLW Rising Star.

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She missed the 2019 season with a serious foot injury, before lining up primarily in the midfield in the aborted 2020 season.

"Chloe's such a capable player, but we'll try to get her in the best position to strengthen our team," Collingwood coach Steve Symonds told womens.afl.

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Chloe Molloy calmly converts the set shot from range to give the Magpies their first goal in 2020

"Having started in the midfield (in 2020), we probably pushed her forward a little bit in the second half of the season to see the impact she could have.

"We probably see Chloe as still being able to play a number of areas, but want to showcase what she can do up forward for us. I think she'll spend a fair bit of time there."

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For the first time since the competition's beginnings, Collingwood's forward line will not feature Sarah D'Arcy, and her move to Richmond is ushering in a new-look attack for the Pies.

"It's given us the chance to restructure our forward line. We still think it's a major area of improvement for us, and we think now we've adjusted it accordingly," Symonds said.

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"We traded for that, we drafted for that aspect as well. We think the construction of our forward line will now suit our game style accordingly.

"Aliesha (Newman, from Melbourne) has come in really well and has some traits that will be really for our game style. She fits it beautifully, hence why we were really strong in getting her in."

Aliesha Newman joined the Magpies from Melbourne in the off-season. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

The Pies greatly benefited from the momentum generated by their 2019 VFLW premiership win, carrying that into a much-improved 2020 AFLW season.

But Symonds said the cancellation of the 2020 VFLW season due to COVID-19 restrictions in the state has proven to have had its own surprising advantages.

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"We had a couple of girls who were able to go back home interstate and spend time with their families, which gave them a bit of a release, but the girls who were in Victoria, we kept in constant contact," he said.

"We also tried to give them a bit of guidance around some work they could try to do in their hours allowed out of the house. I think that was really good for them to give them something to look forward to every day.

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Collingwood forward Chloe Molloy takes a freakish mark while on the ground

"While the VFLW was so positive for our group in 2020 for momentum and building cohesion and trying out game plans, but without it, most of our players have come back in great shape and fresh.

"Last year, because we went through to the Grand Final, we had a few bodies which were banged up coming into pre-season and we had to take care of them. This year, we come in fresh and have only one or two not on the track, although they've had to get used to wearing footy boots again."

Ash Brazill (ACL) is continuing her rehab but has ruled out a round one return, while ruck recruit Abbey Green underwent a small procedure on her knee at the start of pre-season.


New co-captains Steph Chiocci and Brianna Davey

"I'm usually a strong advocate for a sole captain, but we've got two genuine leaders in our side who have worked so well together through the COVID period and last year.

"They really complement each other's strengths and weaknesses, and I think it's a unique situation where we'll get the best out of both, which will help our program.

"They'll push each other as well because they bounce off each other."

The age profile of the list

"If I wind back a year before I arrived, the club set on a plan to hit the draft pretty hard in that year, and we got the Jordy Allen types out of that (2018) draft. Then last year, we brought Bri Davey in and the counteract of that was we didn't have many draft picks.

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"We decided pretty early that we wanted to hit the draft strongly and pick up some good young talent (five players 19 and under) that we thought was there. It's a key demographic, we now have a strong group between 18 and 25 that we think we build and capitalise on over the next few years.

"Most of our young ones have come in and really shown something through pre-season, which is great. We're now in a position where we have genuine pressure for spots in nearly every position."