The highly likely prospect of Brodie Grundy playing for a third club in three years – and the growing acceptance of that possibility from the footy public – highlights the increased maturity among the AFL industry towards the trade space, according to AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson.
Grundy appears poised to join the Sydney Swans during next month’s trade period – 12 months after his sensational move from Collingwood to Melbourne, despite having five years left on his Magpies mega deal – after falling out of favour at the Demons’ selection table in recent months.
Sydney and Port Adelaide were initially seen as the two main contenders for Grundy’s services, but the Power on Wednesday reportedly pulled out of the race. The Herald Sun reported Sydney’s pitch to Grundy – which focused on lifestyle and opportunities outside the game – appealed more than Port’s football-orientated pitch.
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The trade development comes remarkably as Grundy continues his push to play a role in Melbourne’s 2023 finals campaign – and his chances have somewhat increased this week following the one-week suspension to fellow forward Jacob van Rooyen.
Speaking on Fox Footy’s AFL 360, Robinson said the recent reaction to Grundy trade news suggested the footy world was slowly maturing and adapting to a more fluid player movement space.
“It’s been done in darkness and subterfuge for 15 years. When Lin Jong went through Collingwood (for a tour) and there was absolute uproar, everyone went: ‘Hey, it’s OK … a lot of us do it,’” Robinson told AFL 360.
“If Grundy’s at another club next year … if he gets a game this weekend, you reckon he’s going to protect himself or save himself or not put himself in a position? He’s going to give 100 per cent effort if he gets a game this week.”
Co-host Gerard Whateley added: “This seems a very adult conversation running for months between Grundy and Melbourne.”
The Age on Wednesday reported Sydney would look to cover Melbourne’s portion of the Grundy contract, meaning a Swans-Demons deal would have modest trade terms. When Grundy was traded to Melbourne, Collingwood committed to paying part of his salary — and that would continue next year if the ruck moved north.
The Swans, who are keen to secure a ruck following the retirement of journeyman Tom Hickey, are set to be one of the big players in this year’s off-season.
Not only are they interested in Grundy, but they’re among the clubs in the mix for free agent Ben McKay, who’s widely expected to leave the Kangaroos next month.
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Sydney is keen to acquire a key defender, hence its past interest in Harry Himmelberg – who re-signed at the Giants – and Tom Barrass – who reportedly told West Coast he was committed to his current contract despite some interest in joining the Swans – before turning its attention to McKay.
As a result of Himmelberg and Barrass committing to their clubs, as well as the fact Esava Ratugolea and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher aren’t expected to earn big bucks, McKay could command a contract worth up to $800,000 per season – a deal that would likely trigger a first-round compensation pick for North Melbourne.
Despite the prospect of taking on McKay and most of Grundy’s salary, the Swans’ cap structure gives them good flexibility for the future, given they’ve given out long-term deals to the likes of Hayden McLean, Tom McCartin, Isaac Heeney, Tom Papley, Callum Mills and Nick Blakey.
“If they can pick up Ben McKay – and they’re in the mix for that – that’d be two very big pick-ups,” Robinson said.
“I think most people would be rapt to see Brodie Grundy playing consistent senior football. One, he’s a good bloke and, two, he’s a pretty damn good player. He’s wasted in the VFL.
“Get up there, make a difference, enjoy the lifestyle … go and see what Sydney’s like.”
Whateley added Grundy was the type of player “the Swans need”, adding they have “a gaping hole at first ruck”.