Collingwood could throw returning ruckman Brodie Grundy straight back in to play Port Adelaide

Collingwood could throw returning ruckman Brodie Grundy straight back in to play Port Adelaide

Collingwood coach Craig McRae has not ruled out the possibility of star ruckman Brodie Grundy being thrown straight back into the senior team this weekend, with Jordan de Goey ready to return against Port Adelaide at the MCG.

Grundy has been sidelined for three months after he damaged his knee against Essendon on Anzac Day in Round 6.

While the dual All-Australian is more likely to play in the VFL on Saturday, fellow big man Mason Cox has come down with a non-Covid-related virus and may sit out the Power clash, which could open the door for Grundy’s immediate return at AFL level.

“We’ll talk about that at the match committee if that is something that may happen, but time will tell,” McRae said at Olympic Park on Wednesday.

“He’s better prepared now to play AFL footy, whether that’s minutes in the VFL this week, time will tell, but we’re pleased with his progression.”

One player who definitely will be returning is star midfielder/forward De Goey, who has missed the past three games due to a quad injury.

“He’s had a mini pre-season in the last three weeks which, at this time of year, can be a real benefit, so we’re hoping that transfers into good form for him,” McRae said.

There is strong speculation that De Goey will not be playing at Collingwood next year, but McRae insisted that De Goey remained focused on the job at hand with the Magpies who are gunning for a double chance.

“He’s smiling and getting to work,” McRae said. “You look at their actions of him, that’s all you can look at and judge, and his actions of him have been really strong.”

And McRae had no qualms with throwing De Goey straight into the middle against Port Adelaide.

“I don’t think he’ll be eased into the game at all. I think Jordy’s fit and well, he looks fitter than what he was prior to the bye,” McRae said.

“We’re anticipating Jordy’s best.”

McRae was hopeful that the inclusions of De Goey and Grundy over the next few weeks would further improve Collingwood who are fourth on the ladder, riding a nine-game winning streak.

“Jordy in our team is significant for center bounces, significant for score involvement, so that’s improvement straight away,” McRae said.

“Look at Brodie’s early start to the year. We were top four for center bounces, now we’re 18th.”

The club is taking a “conservative approach” with star defender Brayden Maynard, who injured his shoulder against Essendon last round and is in doubt to face the Power.

McRae was pleased the AFL admitted the umpire erred in failing to pay goals neak Jack Ginnivan a free kick for being tackled high by Essendon’s Mason Redman on Sunday.

The incident left 1990 Collingwood premiership coach Leigh Matthews furious and McRae was glad the league conceded it was a significant mistake.

“I’m glad that my eyes are what they are,” he said.

“I said after the game I thought it was a free kick and if it wasn’t, I thought, ‘Oh, maybe my eyes didn’t see it correctly’.”

After Collingwood’s round 8 loss to Richmond, first-year coach McRae said he felt like he was “eight dates into a relationship” with his players compared with the Tigers who were “married with three kids”.

However, as the Magpies continue to enhance their status as the Cinderella story of the year as they aim for a 10th consecutive win this week, McRae gave a big relationship update.

“We’re probably getting engaged, aren’t we?” I have smiled.

“We’re starting to like each other’s company.

“There’s a belief in the group, there’s no doubting … any situation that we’re faced we’ve (been) able to find a way to get over the line.”

The Magpies are 8-1 in matches decided by 11 points or fewer this year.

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