Grundy holds key to Magpies’ midfield
BRODIE Grundy could redefine the importance and role of ruckmen by setting the winning agenda for Collingwood in Saturday's AFL grand final against West Coast at the MCG.
Not since fellow South Australian Brad Ottens survived the pre-game taunting of Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams in 2007 has a ruckman loomed so large in the build-up to an AFL premiership play-off.
And Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury is lauding Grundy for two major strengths: Giving him and his fellow Magpies midfielders first look at the ball and his prowess to join them in winning the ball at ground level.
This will be more critical on Saturday in a grand final that could be influenced by wet and windy conditions.
"Brodie's ability to compete in the ruck - and then be another midfielder - takes our group to a new level," Pendlebury said.
"It is nice as a midfielder to have Brodie in the form that he is in. His final last week (against Richmond premiership ruckman Toby Nankervis) was first class. He gave us first use and followed up to become another midfielder."
All-Australian Grundy, 24, will counter two rivals - Nathan Vardy and Scott Lycett in his last game before he joins the Power - just three weeks after he dominated the qualifying final in Perth with 48 hit-outs. Vardy and Lycett each had 14 in that final won by the Eagles by 16 points.
As West Coast continues to sweat on the fitness of intercept defender Jeremy McGovern, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley wants a strong start to his first AFL grand final as the Magpies boss.
This theme rests heavily in the hands of Grundy, six years after he left SANFL club Sturt as the No. 18 pick in the 2012 AFL national draft.
"You want to jump into it early - and impose the way you want the game to look," Buckley said. "The challenge is to get to work early."
Grundy will start his 108th AFL game as the major spark plug for Collingwood's plan to join Carlton and Essendon at the top of the VFL-AFL premiership ledger with 16 flags.
West Coast is denied its preferred lead ruckman Nic Naitanui by a season-ending knee injury and acknowledges the threat posed by Grundy to blunt the Eagles' plan to create match-defining supply to key forwards Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson, who has led the Eagles to two grand finals in four years, has one simple message for Vardy and South Australian Lycett: "Do your best boys."
"They did a pretty good job last week on (Melbourne and All-Australian ruckman Max) Gawn, but we think Grundy is another level," Simpson said. "Grundy has different strengths.
"So, as a collective, we have to get it done. It is not just ruck, but around the ground - that is the next level we have seen with Brodie Grundy. His workrate, his ability to connect … it is like another midfielder really," added Simpson endorsing Pendlebury's view on Grundy.
"We will not be surprised by what he is going to bring. He brings that effort and intensity every week. And he is a bit of a spiritual leader as well for the 'Pies. We know what we are in for.
"We don't want to overcomplicate it for (Vardy and Lycett). They have roles they have to play.
"Our players always have confidence, not matter who they play against. At this time of the year, you are playing against quality. So you have to play at your best. It is not complicated … but Grundy is a very good player."
West Coast and Collingwood play each other for the third time this season. The Eagles have won both previous matches this year - by 35 points at the MCG on July 15 and by 16 points at Perth Stadium on September 8.