Collingwood recruiters wanted Fremantle midfield maestro Michael Barlow
FREMANTLE’S mature-aged revelation, Michael Barlow, might have found himself in Collingwood colours, with the Magpies’ VFL recruiters desperate to draft him.
Barlow and Geelong’s James Podsiadly are vying for the honour of the AFL’s recruit of the year.
Last year they were both plying their trade in the VFL, with Barlow second in the J.J. Liston Award for the competition’s best player.
The Dockers chose him in the rookie draft, but it has been revealed Collingwood might have pounced.
The Pies have a massive team of recruiters who watch every game in the VFL, TAC Cup, WAFL, SANFL, WAFL colts and SANFL reserves.
Legendary recruiter Noel Judkins, who works as a consultant for Collingwood, says Barlow could have been recruited by the Pies.
“We’ve had two guys doing the VFL for the last four years and one was absolutely besotted with Barlow,” Judkins said.
“He was pushing him the year before as well, but it was thought he was a bit slow and didn’t kick it that well. He just kept running and running and while (the recruiter) was keen on him, he just didn’t get the number of votes.”
Collingwood head recruiter Derek Hine has an exceptional recent record, but the club had just traded for mature recruits Darren Jolly and former Saint Luke Ball.
Most clubs were aware of Barlow’s talent, but uncertain of his weaknesses. Fremantle took a risk on him and when he finished second to Dylan Roberton in a 2km time-trial in his first training session, the club knew it had something special.
Roberton broke the club record in that run and while Barlow does not have breakneck speed, his endurance has allowed him to dominate.
Former Richmond assistant coach David King says clubs now need to hone strengths as well as eliminate weaknesses.
“I reckon there are a lot more of them out there. The beauty of Podsiadly and Barlow is they’ve shown you can get caught up in what you can’t do instead of realising they’re elite in a particular facet,” King said.
“If you can work on that elite quality and make sure it stands out, you have a player.”