COLLINGWOOD coach Craig McRae says finding the best use of ruckman Brodie Grundy remains a "work in progress" as the Magpies head into their Anzac Day clash with Essendon.
Grundy's form has again been under the spotlight as the Magpies have dropped their past three games after two consecutive wins to start the campaign.
The two-time Therabody AFL All-Australian big man and best and fairest winner at the club has averaged nearly 30 hitouts a game so far in 2022 and 17 disposals but has not been as influential as his career-best seasons.
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McRae said the Pies were working to find the best use of Grundy as they try to snap their losing streak in Monday's annual blockbuster at the MCG.
"We're working really hard with Brodie, every day we're here. You would have seen it after training, before training and like every player we want their best. He's competing really well in the contest, it's around the outsides of that where we're really getting to work with Brodie to find where he fits best," McRae said on Thursday.
"We're trying to get him to play forward of the ball sometimes, behind the ball and we just want to get him settled. We're not quite there but it's a work in progress with Brodie."
The Pies face some selection questions ahead of the clash with Essendon, with Brody Mihocek, Jack Ginnivan and Beau McCreery all in line to return. Tall forward Nathan Kreuger missed training on Thursday with illness but is still expected to be available against the Bombers.
McRae, who will lead the club into his first Anzac Day game as coach, said he will tap into the history of the game and the occasion with his players.
"We've talked about Anzac Day and what it means and we want to make sure that throughout the week we want to keep tapping into it and bring those little stories along with us," he said.
"But ultimately it's about the bounce of the ball and getting kicks and handballs and kicking goals. We need to keep an eye on that process of what's going on but also capturing the special day of which it is."
Part of that is former Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse returning to the club for the first time since his messy exit from the Pies at the end of 2011. Malthouse addressed the players on Thursday afternoon about the history of the Pies' involvement in Anzac Day after McRae, who worked under him as an assistant, invited the three-time premiership coach back to the club.
"I'm really happy that Mick's back at the footy club and he's got such a huge history in the game and a wealth of knowledge. My time here under Mick he just made this game really special and we're going to try and tap into his experience in that," McRae said.