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Infringement leader Grundy trying to curb his number

Grundy going great guns Young Magpie star Brodie Grundy reveals the reasons behind his rapid rise
Brodie Grundy of the Magpies in action during the 2014 AFL round 03 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Geelong Cats at the MCG, Melbourne on April 05, 2014. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Pies ruckman Brodie Grundy wants to curb his free kick numbers
BRODIE Grundy wants to stop giving away so many free kicks but Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley doesn't want that to come at the expense of his aggression.
 
Grundy, 20, leads the competition for free kicks against with 20 from fellow ruckmen Matthew Lobbe and Will Minson (both 14). 
 
After putting an indifferent pre-season behind him to find form in the opening rounds, the second-year ruckman is pleased with how his body is holding up.
 
However he wants to curb his infringement numbers and be more productive at contests.
 
"It's disappointing for me as a young player but it's something I have addressed and I'm trying to fix because it's obviously detrimental for the team," Grundy told AFL.com.au this week. 
 
"In reviewing some of the free kicks, I'm just trying to attack the contest and get in there and win the ball and be ferocious and tackle, and sometimes I just creep over that threshold.
 
"I just need to probably not tone it down but get there fast and just settle and probably get lower into my tackles."
 
For Buckley, Grundy is a "small man in a big man's body"; previously labelled the "big Dids" after now-retired Alan Didak, who stood at 184cm.
 
His low centre of gravity – caused by his long torso and shorter legs - is unique for a player of his 203cm stature, which enables him to get low easily.
 
Buckley said Grundy's kicking, marking and forward play had improved this year and was happy with his hard-at-it nature despite the free kick probability.  
 
"His aggression can be tempered at times but he is fundamentally a ball player and he's so hard at the ball that's he's probably been pinged a few times for that over-enthusiasm," Buckley said.
 
"You'd rather have him come from that position than not have him aggressive enough at the contest."
 
Grundy entered this season having debunked the theory big players take longer to reach senior football, having played in the Pies' final seven games of last year.
 
He came in against Greater Western Sydney in round 18 and fully expected to be dropped the following week after a taste of playing in the AFL.
 
However he stayed in and was picked over Darren Jolly for the elimination final against Port Adelaide after slowly assuming the mantle as the club's No.1 ruckman.
 
He didn't let himself think about the load on his shoulders at any stage as he didn't want to become distracted and allow his focus to slip.
 
"Even when people mentioned that last year, I tried not to take too much notice of it because I am a young player and I still have so much to learn," he said.
 
"It's been really good having Ben Hudson at the club and 'Wittsy' [Jarrod Witts] and even last year Darren Jolly – it was something I didn't put on myself because Darren was here and he is a two-time premiership player.
 
"I had a lot of experienced players around me so if you have a few bad games you can easily slip so I was just trying to hang on and do what I can."
 
This year, Grundy is realistic he will likely be managed and miss a few games to make sure his body doesn't get sore and he can run out the season.
 
He's studying health science away from football; one subject at La Trobe University to go with the three he finished in the year he was drafted at the University of South Australia.
 
With hopes to become a physiotherapist who works at AFL clubs, Grundy has ambitions beyond the game.
 
He's signed at Collingwood until the end of 2017, deciding to end doubt over his future out of the way before the season started.
 
On the field, Buckley said the impact the youngster had made in such a short amount of time had been nothing short of exceptional.
 
"He's still learning the game; he hasn't played 20 games of AFL footy yet," Buckley said.
 
"We talk about key position players and ruckmen having to grow into their bodies and into the role but what we're seeing has been exceptional.
 
"He's got that improvement in him … right now, his bread and butter is what he does at clearances and what he does in the air as a ruckman and he's very strong in that area.
 
"If you can highlight that for the NAB Rising Star guys that would be great because we seem to be invisible at the moment, but we've got a few young boys who are doing really good jobs and Brodie is one of them."
 
Twitter: @AFL_JenPhelan