Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn celebrate a goal during Melbourne's win over Gold Coast in round six, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

IT wasn't Melbourne's intent to demean Brodie Grundy. But that is what has unfortunately happened.

It wasn't Collingwood's intent to demean Grundy before that, in trading him out just two years into a seven-year deal, but that, too, unfortunately happened.

Once the game's most sought-after ruckman, Grundy, a two-time All-Australian and two-time best-and-fairest winner as a ruckman for Collingwood, is now being told after 11 seasons in the AFL that his future is dependent on him "refining his forward craft". Demeaning and borderline shattering. He is not a forward, and won't be able to become one at 29.

Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn pose for a photo after Melbourne's match simulation against St Kilda on February 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Of considerable comfort for Grundy as he now embarks upon a stint in the VFL to hone previously never-before-seen "forward craft" would be his considerable salary – about $900,000 a year through to the end of 2027, with Collingwood paying about $250,000 a year of that amount.

Melbourne targeted Grundy late last year, convincing him that he would work in tandem with his great rival, Max Gawn. But just 16 matches into their five-season promise, the plan was aborted. Grundy was axed for a round 18 match against Brisbane, and six-time All-Australian Gawn exploded into his best form of the season.

Everyone at Melbourne will continue to publicly back Grundy. And there is genuine care being applied to all aspects of this situation. But the abandonment of the Gawn-Grundy arrangement just two-thirds into its first year reinforces the views held last year by many outsiders when the trade intent was made public.

Last week Melbourne's general manager of football performance Alan Richardson said: "We like the impact that Brodie is having in the ruck, but think he would benefit from more time as a forward. To provide him with this opportunity, he will spend some time in the VFL and focus on refining his forward craft."

Brodie Grundy kicks the ball during Melbourne's clash against Collingwood in round 13, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

So, the Demons have clearly identified they need an extra tall forward. Maybe they should've recruited one of those last trade period, not a specialist ruckman given they already had one of the all-time ruck greats who, when fit, hadn't needed any help with that craft in the previous seven seasons.

Grundy had been sold the ruck-with-Gawn dream. The Demons have since decided he needs to play key position forward. He's now a back-up only to Gawn. With four and a half seasons remaining on that arrangement.

It is now feasible a third AFL club could be paying his salary next season. Geelong? Brisbane? Port Adelaide? North Melbourne? Sydney? West Coast? There will be options. A lot of clubs may want to use a gun ruckman, who will come at a significantly discounted price, in the ruck position.

American-style tactic shows Cats are ready to pounce

IT WAS a tactic straight out of a playbook of a United States sporting franchise, rarely seen in the regularly conservative AFL world.

"We are the danger," said Geelong coach Chris Scott into a microphone and with cameras rolling after his side had smashed North Melbourne on the Sunday of round 17.

After a difficult season, Scott's reigning AFL premier outfit finished that round in eighth place on the ladder. After another thumping win on Saturday night of round 18, against Essendon which entered the round placed fifth, it looms as large as it has at any stage of the 2023 season.

The backline is again settled, the midfield is being led as much by Max Holmes (59 disposals in the past two matches) as Paddy Dangerfield, and the forward line is as a solid as ever, with Tom Hawkins on 45 goals for the year and Jeremy Cameron, while by his standards relatively quiet in the past six matches, looming dangerously as the season reaches its pointy-end phase.


The team that destroyed the Bombers was the best the Cats had managed to compile all season. There's a chance, but no guarantee, that last year's equal best-and-fairest winner Cam Guthrie (with Cameron) will return from injury. Zach Tuohy will return.

The 2023 Geelong is not the 2022 one. There's no Joel Selwood. And there won't be a 16-win streak culminating in the premiership, but it doesn't need to be. Success for it could easily come from outside the top four, such is its inner belief and aura.

Geelong has lost only once in the past six matches, against Port Adelaide in round 14.


Perhaps judgment needs to be held until next Saturday, when the Cats play Brisbane at the Gabba. Scott's side doesn't necessarily need to win to frank its flag credentials, but it can't be blown away.

Whether Scott believed his post-round 17 declaration is irrelevant. He said it because he knew it would get inside the heads of the teams vying for the flag and places in the top eight. It's what US coaches and players regularly do. I loved it, and wish there would be more of it. After all, they're only words.

And it's the actions of the Cats which ultimately most scare their rivals, anyway. No one will want to play them in September.