Taylor Adams has paid tribute to the bravery of fellow Collingwood vice-captain Steele Sidebottom and his fiancee Alisha Edwards as the veteran Magpie leaves his teammates with a hole that Adams may not be filled straight away.
Sidebottom was scheduled to leave the Pies' Queensland hub on Tuesday as he returns to Victoria ahead of the birth of his and Edwards' first child next month. Collingwood remain hopeful Sidebottom will be able to return before the end of the season, but there are no guarantees.
Steele Sidebottom has been lauded by his teammate for sacrificing to stay with the Pies as long as he has.Credit:Getty Images
The midfielder farewelled his teammates with an important contribution in the Pies’ 30-point win over North Melbourne at the Gabba on Monday night, a victory that took coach Nathan Buckley's side to seventh on the ladder.
Buckley said after the match that Sidebottom was "95 per cent pumped" to get back and "five per cent bummed" to be leaving his teammates.
Speaking after the win over North, Adams said Sidebottom would be difficult to replace.
"That's obviously going to leave a bit of a hole for us and something that we can't necessarily fill straight away given the enormity of Steele's game and what he brings to the footy club," Adams said.
The tough onballer said Collingwood were appreciative of the sacrifices made by both Sidebottom and Edwards during the lockdown period in Victoria.
"I'm really close with Steelo. I've had some great conversations with him. He's in a really difficult position, because he can't wait to get home to see his wife-to-be, Alisha, and support her. She's been extremely brave through this whole period. Not having her support network around her, including her family, given the situation in Melbourne finds itself in, and then not having Steele.
"Bravery and courage comes in many forms and what them two have done has been nothing short of brave. We're grateful for the sacrifices Steele's made to the footy club, to get this far. Put his hand up and play the game's he's played, and we're grateful that Alisha's been so willing to sacrifice her time and support from Steele. It's a really exciting time in their life. We'll be there from a distance, with them the whole way, and hopefully we're able to get Steelo back towards the end of the year."
In the shorter-term, the Pies look ahead to Sunday's blockbuster against finals challengers Carlton at the Gabba.
"We've got a six-day break. That's a long break in terms of what we've faced this year so we'll have a chance to regroup over the next couple of days and project forward to [facing] the Blues, who are playing good footy," Adams said.
Adams also said he was rapt to see Levi Greenwood make a successful return from a knee reconstruction during Monday night's win.
"There's probably points towards the end of last year when he suffered that ACL injury that he thought 'will I ever play again?' To have him back shored us up. He's a beast around the footy and he brings some really great grunt and run."
Buckley said after the game that he expected forward Brody Mihocek to return from concussion against the Blues after suffering a head knock in the round 12 loss to Melbourne.
"Obviously the concussion protocols that the AFL have put in place in recent years … if you are concussed on field it makes it very difficult to get up for the next game, even with the normal week to week games," Buckley said.
"If he's right to go he'll play, if he's not we'll wait another week."
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