Collingwood recruit James Aish is living proof of why you shouldn’t judge an AFL player too quickly.
Aish finished fourth in the count for the 2014 Rising Star award but managed only 11 games in his second season at Brisbane.
It was a combination of poor form, a finger injury, a broken jaw and near-constant speculation over his future.
Nonetheless the midfielder arrived at the Magpies with great expectations last year, having been taken with pick No.7 in the 2013 draft.
Aish struggled in the opening half of this season but since earning a recall for round 14 has been far more consistent, playing all eight games and showing plenty of class.
“He copped a lot of flak for it, we’re so quick to jump on guys,” Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said of criticism levelled at Aish earlier this year.
“Aishy’s only in his third year. He’s played 25 or 30 games of footy. He was learning about his new teammates, coming to a new city in Melbourne that he’s never lived in before.
“There was plenty of settling in that he had to do.
“Clearly he’s been able to stick at it, see the bigger picture and continue to work away. His form over the last six weeks has been pretty encouraging.”
Buckley suggested many judges showed a lack of restraint across the league.
“I know we get very impatient with recruits, even with young players,” he said.
“An old wise head once told me that you can’t expect a third grader to pass matriculation.
“You’ve got to get through primary school before you get to high school.”
The hot form of Adam Treloar, who like Aish joined the club during last year’s trade period, has helped the Magpies deal with the season-long absence of Dane Swan.
Buckley remains unsure whether 2011 Brownlow medallist Swan will retire, having suffered a serious foot injury in round one.
“He’s in limbo a little bit. He’s still trying to work out what his body’s capable of and how his foot is healing,” Buckley said.
“The next surgical opinion isn’t going to be until late September, so he’s working away now to make sure he’s in shape to keep next year on the radar.”