Darcy Cameron wasn’t even in Collingwood’s team at the start of the AFL system.
Now, the Magpies’ precariously-placed premiership hopes will literally start with their once-sidelined big man in the middle.
Cameron will face Fremantle man-mountain Sean Darcy at the opening bounce of Saturday’s semi-final at the MCG, aware any edge he can give his undermanned midfield could tilt things in Collingwood’s favour.
“He’s (Darcy is) one of the best in the competition at the moment and he’s a big boy,” Cameron told AAP.
“Obviously he’s going to have his influence on the game due to his strengths – his hitouts and his aerial’s pretty good as well.
“I’ll just have a look with (head of development) Josh Fraser and (Mason Cox) and see what we can do to nullify that and also focus on my strengths as well.”
Cameron’s No.1 ruck role opened up amid Brodie Grundy’s season-ending series of injuries, while a shoulder injury ruled Nathan Kreuger out for most of the year.
Crossing to Collingwood in 2019 after just one game at Sydney, Cameron only pinch-hit in the ruck before this season.
While noting he’d love to see Grundy, linked to Melbourne, remain at Collingwood, Cameron always knew he could be a first-choice ruckman.
“I knew I had the ability from when I got drafted,” he said.
“I spent a lot of time in the ruck early on in my career and also spent a lot of time in the NEAFL in the ruck.
“So when I was thrown into the deep end, it didn’t really feel like the deep end for me.
“I’m comfortable in that position and I feel like I’ve shown why.”
The Magpies need a hit of inside grunt after ballwinner Taylor Adams’ season-ending groin injury and called upon Trent Bianco to replace the vice-captain against the unchanged Dockers.
Veteran Steele Sidebottom backed Collingwood to go toe-to-toe with Andrew Brayshaw, Caleb Serong and Will Brodie on the inside, and catch Fremantle on the hop.
“They’re all quality players and they’re probably a big reason why Freo are in the position they are,” Sidebottom told AAP.
“But we’ve got some older guys in there and (Jack Crisp) has been thrown back in into the mids a little bit.
“Patty Lipinski for us is someone that I thought played really well on the weekend, he’s someone that can break games open with his run.
“We need to be able to combat the inside game which they’re very good at but then try and probably get them on the outside a little bit as well.”