Steele Sidebottom turned an upset stomach into an Anzac Day performance that was all guts.
The Collingwood midfielder was the unanimous choice for the Anzac Medal as best afield in their 69-point demolition of Essendon on Monday at the MCG.
He kicked three first-quarter goals as the Magpies blew Essendon away early.
Sidebottom finished with four goals and 33 disposals.
But before the match, Sidebottom felt dizzy and had what he diagnosed simply as “crook guts”.
Sidebottom joked he might have unwittingly have hit upon a new pre-match routine.
“I will take that if I can perform like I have,” he said.
Coach Nathan Buckley has seen him play better, but said it was a strong performance.
“Hitting the scoreboard was probably the main part of it,” Buckley said.
“Four goals in the first half, basically from a wingman, you don’t see that very often.
“He went into the game a bit crook, but he ran hard and found a way, which is what leaders do.”
This was Sidebottom’s second game back in the side after serving a two-game suspension for a high bump in the round-one loss to Sydney.
In his absence, Collingwood narrowly beat Richmond and then lost badly to St Kilda.
“It’s great just to be back out there. Full stop,” he said.
“Obviously the report in the first game wasn’t ideal and sitting in the stands when the guys aren’t performing to our best, it hurts a lot.”
Sidebottom said winning the medal was a big honour, given the Anzac Day significance.
“But … it’s just a relief to get back on the winning list as well,” he added.
“We’ve worked hard and probably just haven’t been able to be consistent enough to win games.
“Today is definitely a step in the right direction.”