Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has lifted the lid on superstar ruckman Brodie Grundy’s struggles in 2020, suggesting that his star man struggled to cope with life in a quarantine hub.
After back-to-back All-Australian seasons in 2018 and 2019, Grundy was never able to find his best football this season, sparking rumours that he may have been carrying an injury.
The Magpies star was curiously benched during stretches in the elimination final win over West Coast and finished with just 10 disposals in the 68-point semi-final loss to Geelong.
Buckley was asked what the 26-year-old needed to do in the off-season to remedy his game, and offered an interesting insight into Grundy and his teammates’ experience.
“You won’t fully get open dialogues and conversations about how people have travelled or how groups have travelled through this period,” he said.
“We all sweep it under the rug and some of our rugs are up here (gestures high) at the moment. That’s the reality of the environment that we’re in.
“Brodes is a guy who loves the game and loves footy, but he also loves to get away from it, and when you’re in a hub it’s been a little difficult for him to do that.
“He’s one of plenty of blokes across the competition that will have struggled at times through this and he’s not on his own. I want to make that clear. It’s not just Brodie Grundy.
“All of us in some shape or form have had to find a new normal and I think it’s been less than optimal.
“Brodie’s form hasn’t been as strong as his last two years, and whether it’s got to do with hub life or whether it’s got to do with what’s been imposed on us or whether it’s just a down year, we’ll find out in the next couple of weeks.
“Brodie has been huge for this footy club for a long time. He’s a massive character and he provides so much energy and what he needs to do is rest and refresh and come back and do what he’s always done.”
Buckley added that the unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 had required Collingwood to constantly “sweep” issues to the side.
“When you’re in a trauma situation you just get things done,” he said.
“You sweep all the other stuff to the side because if you spend time trying to unpack everything that wasn’t quite right, you’d just melt into a pool of water.
“That’s just not what we do, we’ve got a stiff upper lip, we stand up straight, we look at the opportunities and positives and we have a crack at it, and I think we’ve done that for the most part.
“I’ve seen some super impressive attitudes in our boys both on and off the field. Yes it has been tough, but it’s actually been something we’ve relished for the large part of it.
“None of us are satisfied that we’re finishing now, we’d have preferred to go on for another couple of weeks, but we didn’t earn it.”