The battle between Brayden Maynard and Toby Greene is great for football in Collingwood Magpies v GWS Giants
However, the answer to whether Maynard will play on Greene on Sunday is not as obvious as it might seem to some, as Collingwood’s back line coach Justin Leppitsch teaches a system-based defence.
“We play team defence, so we don’t really get locked on to anyone and are swapping and changing,” Maynard said.
“It is an interesting one. I have not really had any one-v-one match-ups lately. We’ll see what happens with Toby Greene but even then, I am not sure it will be a one-v-one match-up. We will bring a team brand of footy.”
The shift has only had an impact on Maynard’s preparation slightly as he is not as fastidious about writing notes on each upcoming opponent as he was in the first six to seven seasons at the Magpies when he filled books with observations.
He still prepares with as much diligence in terms of watching vision and understanding his role, but his mindset is evolving as he moves with the Pies’ new adaptable ethos.
It hasn’t diminished his love of a one-on-one battle, however. But now he directs his manic will to win towards whichever opponent he finds himself trying to beat at any given moment of the game.
“I like one-on-one match ups. I thrive in those situations. It’s a good challenge and I feel like I step up and get it done for the team,” Maynard said.
Getting it done for the team is what has made Maynard a fan and club favourite, a player who coach Craig McRae knows will be the first to fly the flag for his teammates.
It’s no wonder because football runs in his veins.
His mum Donna, who Maynard says is the most competitive person in the family, is the daughter of football great Graham Campbell, who died early this year. He played 151 games for Fitzroy before coaching the Lions, West Perth and Glenelg.
His dad Peter played eight games with Melbourne before becoming a premiership star in 195 games with Glenelg. He finished up at Woodville-West Torrens and then became the Crows’ runner. Brayden’s brother Corey played basketball in America before racking up two games with Melbourne. He now works in welfare at North Melbourne.
Maynard has the signatures of both his grandfathers tattooed on his wrists, paying homage with a glance to the heavens before the ball is bounced in each game, their competitive instincts flowing through him.
“I get it from both sides of the family. As a boy, I just never ever liked losing a contest and did whatever I needed to do to win, whether it was a game of footy or whether it was at training contest to contest or one v ones,” Maynard said.
“Whatever it was, I always wanted to win, and then it led into basketball and whatever sport I played. It’s something I always pride myself on.”
Maynard finished second in the club’s best and fairest last season. He has been reliable this season after missing the first two games with suspension and his statistics show how well-rounded a footballer he has become.
According to Champion Data, Maynard is the only defender to average at least six contested possessions, six intercept marks, three spoils and three tackles per game, and he is ranked sixth in the competition for intercept possessions.
But statistics don’t measure spirit, and that is one element that makes Maynard such an integral part of Collingwood.
It’s why Maynard v Greene shapes as a promoter’s dream any time these two clubs meet.
For Magpie fans, that contest is something akin to spiritual warfare.
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