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Steele Sidebottom’s Defensive Switch: A Career-Extending Move for Collingwood Magpie



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In a bold move that could potentially prolong Collingwood Magpie’s stalwart Steele Sidebottom‘s career, coach Craig McRae deployed the dual-premiership player in a new position in the recent clash against West Coast.

With an illustrious career spanning 16 seasons, including significant achievements such as two premierships, dual-Copeland Medals, and an All Australian selection, Sidebottom faced a new challenge last Sunday as he lined up in the backline for the first time in his 317-game tenure.

Showing nerves but also excitement as he embraced the unfamiliar role, Sidebottom, at 33 years of age, adapted swiftly to his defensive duties at Marvel Stadium, making a remarkable impact with his performance.

Accustomed to a more prominent midfield role, Sidebottom’s seamless transition to the backline was a testament to his versatility and football acumen, garnering praise from his coach and teammates for his adaptability and standout performance.

Playing alongside defensive leaders like Darcy Moore and receiving guidance from teammates Oleg Markov and John Noble, Sidebottom showcased his football IQ and work ethic, contributing significantly to Collingwood’s defensive structure and ball movement.

Despite statistical fluctuations this season, Sidebottom’s strategic positioning and decision-making on the field were key factors in Collingwood’s victory over West Coast, highlighting the potential of this new defensive role to enhance the team’s overall performance.

The tactical shift not only bolstered Collingwood’s defense but also provided opportunities for emerging midfield talents like Nick Daicos and Jack Crisp to shine in their respective roles, signaling a positive development for the team’s dynamics.

As Collingwood gears up to face Adelaide at the MCG, the success of Sidebottom’s defensive switch has ignited speculation about its permanency, with experts lauding the move as a strategic masterstroke that could reap long-term benefits for the Magpies.

Drawing parallels to successful positional transitions in other AFL teams, such as Dyson Heppell’s move to halfback for Essendon and Dayne Zorko‘s defensive role for Brisbane, analysts predict a continued evolution of Sidebottom’s game that could redefine Collingwood’s playing style.

With the Magpies riding a wave of momentum following a string of victories, including a draw in 2017 against Adelaide, Sidebottom remains focused on contributing wherever needed, embodying the team-first mentality that characterizes Collingwood’s resurgence in the AFL season.

Rachel Adams

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