Brodie Grundy has taken another step towards the exit door, telling Melbourne teammates and family that he has decided to head to the Sydney Swans.
The 29-year-old’s expected departure from the Demons after just one year became even more likely when he was not picked for their straight-sets AFL finals elimination.
The dual All Australian was notably overlooked for last week’s semi-final loss to Carlton despite superstar ruckman Max Gawn pushing through a broken big toe.
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Grundy watched on from the stands as ruck-forward reserve Josh Schache sat out the game on the bench as an unused substitute.
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin, whose public support of Grundy shifted considerably in recent months, said Schache was picked as “another option in the forward half” and ruck cover – the exact plan they had for their top recruit before he was dropped for good.
“It hasn’t been a happy time for him (Grundy) the last few months,” Sam McClure said on the Tradies podcast with 7NEWS Melbourne’s Mitch Cleary.
“I think Schache being picked as the sub was probably salt in the wounds.
“Grundy and Sydney have been mentioned quite a bit in the last few weeks … but we can tell you that he’s told people he’s going to Sydney.”
Grundy previously met with Port Adelaide but a move to his home state did not materialise, with the Power focusing on defensive and cheaper ruck upgrades.
He thought he had found a home at Melbourne this year after already being pushed out of Collingwood but is unlikely to have any such issues at the Swans.
Sydney’s lead ruckman Tom Hickey has retired while the 25-year-old Peter Ladhams is a serviceable backup who is more comfortable filling a forward role than Gawn or Grundy.
McClure believes the Demons have accepted they must trade Grundy to focus on a solution to their troubles inside 50.
“They’ll trade him. They’d love to keep him as a back-up ruckman,” he said.
“But I just think the look of it, combined with the fact that they’ll demand that Sydney take on the entire contract, it clears out $650,000 out of the (salary cap) for the next few years.
“That’s helpful (but) that’s not enough for Melbourne. If the last few weeks, the last two years, have told Melbourne anything, it’s that they need to get aggressive and they need a goalkicking forward.
“Grundy helps that with a little bit of (cap space) but they need to get creative. I think someone’s going to have to be squeezed out.”
Cleary noted moves by other contenders in the recent past haven’t always paid off like they had hoped.
He highlighted Adelaide’s trade for Bryce Gibbs after the 2017 grand final and the return of Dayne Beams to Collingwood following the 2018 decider.
“When clubs get close, they go for the extraordinary,” Cleary said.
“I think Melbourne with their early draft hand – they’ve got their first-round pick plus Fremantle’s, which is a top-six pick – they’re going to get to work on something we haven’t thought of yet.”
Grundy’s trade request could be made official as early as this week following an exit meeting with Dees coach Simon Goodwin.
Melbourne defender Jake Lever said he couldn’t blame Grundy for a swift move to a third AFL club.
“He’s a pretty good ruckman and he’s playing probably behind one of the best of all time. He’s been playing in the twos the last couple of weeks,” Lever said.
“So I’m sure that he’ll do everything possible to make the most of his career and if that is to move or if that is to stay, we’ll accept whatever it is.
“But I’m proud of Brodie for what he has been doing at training. You can see him in the rooms before the game and after the game talking to the guys.
“He’s a committed Melbourne player but now the season’s over I’m sure there’ll be a lot of movement as there normally is this time of year.
“He’ll be sorely missed if he does leave, but if he stays, we’ve got a pretty good number two ruckman, that’s for sure.”
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