BRODIE Grundy might well have strengthened his bargaining power for a mega contract extension by claiming his second successive Collingwood best and fairest award.
The AFL's premier ruckman vindicated his hot favouritism by blitzing his teammates in the Copeland Trophy count at Crown Palladium on Friday night to win with 174 votes, while ultra-consistent skipper Scott Pendlebury (158) was runner-up and dashing defender Jack Crisp (147) also finished on the podium.
Grundy put his unique personality on display at the All Australian team announcement. Picture: AFL Photos
Midfielder Adam Treloar (fourth with 141 votes) surprisingly missed the top three after being the AFL's most prolific ball-winner, averaging 33 possessions (13 contested) and six clearances and receiving the Pies' second-most votes (18) in the Brownlow Medal.
The development of tough midfielder Brayden Maynard (124) was demonstrated by a career-best fifth placing, after performing brilliant stopping jobs on stars such as West Coast's Jack Darling and Geelong champ Gary Ablett in the Pies' qualifying final win.
In sixth place was vice-captain Steele Sidebottom (118), who'd taken top honours in the previous two seasons, sharing the award with Grundy last year. He was closely followed by wingman Tom Phillips (116) and high-marking backman Jeremy Howe (115).
Howe was adjudged the Pies' best player of the finals after terrific displays against both the Cats in the qualifying final and Greater Western Sydney in the shattering four-point loss in the preliminary final. He also received the best clubman award.
Grundy's gong capped a superb season from the 25-year-old, who received his second successive All Australian selection and his first as the No. 1 ruckman, and finished sixth in the Brownlow Medal with 23 votes, including seven best-afield efforts.
A unique ruckman given his running capabilities and ground skills in addition to his aerial dominance, Grundy amassed numbers many midfielders would be proud to claim, averaging 21 possessions (14 contested), six clearances and four tackles, along with 43 hitouts.
The big South Australian still has a year to run on his contract before qualifying for restricted free agency, and he and the Pies are in discussions about extending their commitment.
Grundy, who has spoken of the lure of returning home to Adelaide, reportedly wants a seven-year deal, but the Magpies are believed to have offered only a three-year contract.
After his victory, Grundy said contract talks weren't his priority, adding that he was keen to get away on holiday to refresh before returning to build on his game for next season.
"I think the contract will just look after itself," he told reporters.
Grundy also spoke with affection about the club.
"My life has changed forever playing for the Collingwood Football Club. It's been a home for me since I turned 18 away from home, coming from interstate," he said.
Your 2019 E.W. Copeland Trophy winner.— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) October 4, 2019
Brodie Grundy has achieved so much in his short career and there's much more to come for the 25-year-old in the black and white (174 votes).#CopelandTrophy19 pic.twitter.com/tdhFbzzUWH
"To go to games and see people with the No.4 on their jumper or wear one sock up, one sock down … I'll never be able to say thank you enough for how supported I've felt by the Magpie supporters.
"Each week I try to put it all out there and try to repay them and my teammates and coaches for all their support.
"My life is far better for being involved with this organisation and I'm looking forward to next year."
Pendlebury finished in the top three for a club-record 11th time in his past 13 seasons.
The 31-year-old, who received his first All Australian selection in five years and his sixth in total, averaged 27 possessions (10 contested), four clearances and five tackles.
There's few players as durable as Scott Pendlebury. Picture: AFL Photos
Crisp enjoyed his second top-three placing, having also been third in his first season with the club in 2015 after crossing from Brisbane. The durable left-footer, who had a limited pre-season, was at times thrown into the midfield to generate run and averaged 26 possessions (eight contested) in a club-high 89.4 per cent game time.
2019 Collingwood best and fairest
1. Brodie Grundy 174
2. Scott Pendlebury 158
3. Jack Crisp 147
4. Adam Treloar 141
5. Brayden Maynard 124
6. Steele Sidebottom 118
7. Tom Phillips 116
8. Jeremy Howe 115
9. Brody Mihocek 106
10. Jordan Roughead 105
Other award winners
Gavin Brown Award (pressure): Callum Brown
Bob Rose Award (player of the finals): Jeremy Howe
Gordon Coventry Award (leading goal-kicker): Brody Mihocek (36)
Harry Collier Trophy (best first-year player): John Noble
Darren Millane Perpetual Memorial Trophy (best clubman): Jeremy Howe
Joseph Wren Award (best VFL player): Alex Woodward
VFLW best and fairest: Jaimee Lambert
VWFL best and fairest: Brendan Stroud
Magpies Netball best and fairest: Geva Mentor