Murray ready for Round 1 debut: Pendles
COLLINGWOOD captain Scott Pendlebury has backed bolter Sam Murray to make his AFL debut against Hawthorn in Round 1.
The 20-year-old recruit, who spent two seasons at Sydney without playing a senior game, was impressive across half-back for the Magpies against the Western Bulldogs in Moe on Saturday, picking up 24 touches.
While coach Nathan Buckley was loathe to guarantee him a start after that match, Pendlebury said his form warranted a debut.
"I can't speak for Bucks, but I'd assume he'd play Round 1, given how well he played in the JLT" Pendlebury said.
"It feels weird to try and get back into that cycle, who's in our best 22, there's going to be disappointed guys.
"Jaidyn Stephenson has played both practice games, he's looked really good, Brodie Mihocek's another one.
"If the opportunity comes and it is those guys, I don't think they will be out of place with how they've trained al summer and how they've performed."
Pendlebury was circumspect about the Magpies' injury list which includes Jamie Elliott (ankle), Daniel Wells (achilles), Jordan de Goey (hamstring), Levi Greenwood (knee), Tyson Goldsack (season-ending knee) and James Aish (calf).
"I think the guys that you're referring to are actually coming back from surgery, so they're not too far away," Pendlebury said.
"No side I don't think in history has had the same 22 from Round 1 all the way through.
"We know the side changes and that's why we've got lists as big as we've got, because we need guys to step up.
"We're obviously a better side when those guys are up and going, but they haven't been up and going and they're looking like being available pretty early for the season."
Only one skipper, aside from Pendlebury, thinks Collingwood can make the eight this season, but that doesn't bother him.
"We're not the smartest blokes going around, I think last year no one had Richmond winning the flag," he said.
"I don't read too much into that.
" … I think every club wants their footy to do the talking …. and ultimately by the time we hit Round 22 make sure we've done enough that we're in a position to play finals."
Having not played finals since 2013 Pendlebury said premierships to the Western Bulldogs and Richmond in the past two season gave all clubs hope.
"It just shows anything's possible and everyone knows that," he said.
"The game's so good because every year you butter up thinking that this year could be the year."