When Luke Ball went down with his knee reconstruction, Collingwood teammate Dayne Beams stood up.
In his fourth AFL season, Beams has been outstanding as the Magpies shuffled their midfield to cope with Ball’s absence.
Ball is regarded as one of the league’s best stoppage players and his season-ending injury in round three could have been decisive.
Right away, coach Nathan Buckley said teammates such as Beams had to pick up the slack and the 22-year-old listened.
It culminated in Beams joining fellow midfielders Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan as the Magpies’ All-Australian selections.
“It’s a great credit, especially to Beamsy, that he’s been able to step up in Bally’s absence and not only contribute, but dominate games,” Pendlebury said.
“I’m really happy for him.
“Probably his preparation is the best it’s been … he looks like he’s a lot more determined.
“Definitely in games this year, I’ve been amazed with the things he’s been able to do.”
In particular, Pendlebury hopes that Beams can repeat what he produced in round 20 against Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
Collingwood will play the Swans at the same venue in Friday night’s preliminary final.
In their last clash, Beams starred with 34 possessions and three goals.
“It’s good all three of us got in there (the All-Australian team) and hopefully this weekend, the three of us contribute and we go up to Sydney and get a win,” Pendlebury said.
“Last time we played Sydney up there, he was probably the difference, so it would be nice if he could pull out another game like that.”
Beams was modest about making the All-Australian team, saying in his three previous seasons his form simply did not warrant the honour.
“I suppose it’s an opportunity … I’ve had that this year and it’s something I’ve enjoyed,” he said.
Beams was reticent when asked about his terrible week – he and several other Collingwood players were good friends with John McCarthy.
The team will go to Sorrento, near Melbourne, on Thursday for McCarthy’s funeral after his death in Las Vegas.
“J-Mac was a friend, so we’ll cope as we have the whole week previously,” Beams said.
“We’ll lean on each other, get through it and then we have a job to do on Friday night.
“We’ll do that to the best of our ability.”