Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn at Melbourne training in March 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

NEWLY re-signed Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has conceded the Demons' bold experiment to recruit Brodie Grundy and partner him with fellow star ruckman Max Gawn has fallen well short of expectations.

Grundy, a dual All-Australian at Collingwood, finds himself in Melbourne's VFL team after the Dees functioned better with Gawn as the sole ruckman.

Melbourne have tried to hone Grundy's forward craft so he could spend more time in attack but he is now unlikely to feature in their premiership push unless there are multiple injuries, with one round in the home-and-away season remaining.

Goodwin's language around the ruck combination has shifted dramatically since Grundy was first axed from the team ahead of the round 18 clash with the Brisbane Lions.

For the first time, Goodwin on Thursday admitted the Grundy-Gawn duo hadn't worked.

Brodie Grundy in action during Melbourne's loss to Carlton in round 22, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"In terms of the way they function in the team together from a forward-half perspective, I think it's pretty clear that we acknowledge that it hasn't quite been the success that we're hoping for – and that certainly hasn't been all on Brodie," Goodwin, who on Wednesday re-signed as Demons coach until the end of 2026, said.

"We were hoping for Max to play big time forward as well, and between the two of them we haven't quite had the impact that we would have liked throughout the year.

"That's impacted Brodie's ability to play in the team in the last five or six weeks. 

"I think from that perspective we acknowledge that part of it hasn't worked. 

"There's certainly areas of the combination that has worked and there are certainly areas of having them both on our list that has worked as well."

Max Gawn and Ivan Soldo compete in the ruck during Melbourne's clash against Richmond in round 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

If Grundy remains on the outer, the 29-year-old will almost certainly request a trade to a third club in as many years.

The two-time Magpies best-and-fairest winner was forced out of Collingwood at the end of last year in the club's attempt to offload his hefty wage from their salary cap.

Goodwin said thinking about accommodating a trade for Grundy at season's end was not the space he was in "right now".

"I'm in the space of winning games of footy and building the best footy team possible," he said.

"Those things will be discussed at the end of the year but Brodie from my end is a Melbourne player.

"I understand the exterior talk and the noise about it. But now he's got four years to go as a Melbourne player and we'd certainly love to have him at our footy club."


Grundy's hopes of getting back into the team were diminished further with Goodwin confirming crafty forward Bayley Fritsch (foot) would return from a seven-week layoff in this Sunday's clash with Sydney at the SCG.

The Demons can still finish as high as second and secure a home qualifying final should they defeat the Swans and other results fall their way.