Pies’ Stephenson on outer for AFL restart

Young star Jaidyn Stephenson has again been overlooked by Collingwood at the selection table ahead of Thursday night’s AFL season re-opener against Richmond.

Off-season recruit Darcy Cameron has been confirmed as a starter for his first match in Magpies colours, replacing American tall Mason Cox who has had an interrupted preparation in recent weeks.

But coach Nathan Buckley sees no other reason for changes to the side that belted the Western Bulldogs way back in March.

Stephenson was unlucky to miss out on that round-one team after battling glandular fever during the pre-season.

The 21-year-old speedster and Cox are among the senior players who will feature in a reserves scratch match against the Tigers’ leftover players on Wednesday night.

Travis Varcoe, Matt Scharenberg, Rupert Wills and Isaac Quaynor could also be on the outer after leaving the training track early on Tuesday.

“We’ve got quite a few players that would see themselves as best 22 players that are outside the best 22 at the moment,” Buckley said.

“Mason would feel like he could play but we feel like there’s someone else (Cameron) at the moment that’s better prepared to go and play that (ruck-forward) role.

“Stevo’s forward in his preparation, he’s been pretty good, but we didn’t think that anyone deserved to come out of the side from round one, as far back as it was.

“Rupert Wills is another one who’s had a standout three-week block and was stiff to miss in round one and we went with Tyler Brown and we’ve gone with Tyler again.”

Collingwood will have some players on light duties in Wednesday’s scratch match as cover for Thursday’s team, but Cox will not be one of them.

Instead, the ruck-forward will play a full reserves match to push his case for round three after overcoming a knee injury.

Buckley said the Pies were well prepared to resume their rivalry with Richmond despite only having a handful of full-contact training sessions since the coronavirus shutdown.

“Our boys have been used to ramping up their loads relatively soon after absences from the footy club or from full training,” Buckley said.

“We think that stands us in really good stead and we were able to dial it up really quickly on return.”

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