Collingwood coach Craig McRae is eagerly anticipating the return of star ruck Brodie Grundy to help solidify a finals berth.
McRae said that the form of Mason Cox and Darcy Cameron as a tandem will not impact Brodie Grundy’s return to the senior team.
Grundy has not played since Anzac Day and McRae spoke about the likelihood of Grundy playing a game in the VFL to build match fitness.
“We’re just trying to ramp up the volume, he’s physically able to play but we’re keen to get him at his optimum to be able to play at this level,” he said.
“There’s a VFL game next week, if we see fit to play Brodie in that then time will tell.
“When Brodie’s physically ready to go, we won’t shy away from picking him. I think he makes us better, his centre bounce stuff in the first four or five rounds was among the best in the competition.
“That’s the sort of thing we want to get better at.”
McRae dismissed suggestions that Grundy would be held off returning due to the recent strong form of Sam Draper and the Bombers, who the Magpies play on Sunday.
“There’s nothing to do with the opposition, this is about setting Brodie up to be his best,” he said.
“He’s missed 14-15 weeks at this level, this is a tough game, and I’ve always had a viewpoint of setting players up to succeed, you know this is no different.”
“We’re going to set Brodie up to be the best he possibly can be.”
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The Bombers have been in strong form, winning their last three games, and McRae noted their recent strong centre bounce form, spearheaded by Draper.
“Their centre bounces are a real weapon, they kicked six goals against Brisbane only a couple of weeks ago, they’re a real weapon at centre bounces,” he said.
“You know, it’s not a great part of our game, so we’ll have to be aware in that part of our game.
McRae also dismissed suggestions that they would have preferred to face the Bombers during their mid-year form slump.
“There are no easy games, it’s a really good challenge for us, a really good test, they’re playing a really high aggressive type of ball movement and style,” he said.
“I’ve worked with Blake Caracella before and I’m sure he’s got his fingerprints on their ball movement, because it looks fast, hard to defend against.
“Centre bounces and aggressive ball movement are going to be really hard to stop.”
The controversy around head-high tackles and free kicks was once again high on the agenda. McRae made note of the new changes, having addressed them with the team.
“I’m not sure it’s a crackdown, it’s a tightening of the screws of what was always there, the rule around the interpretation of what is high contact,” he said.
“We’ve been addressed, we’ve had an umpire at training today, we’ve got a great relationship with umpires, they come weekly for us to educate us.
“It is what it is, we’ll just play within the rules.”
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