In a reality that seems like years ago, Grundy was thought of as not just one of the best ruckmen, but one of the best players in the entire competition. The Grundy vs. Gawn debate raged on from 2018 onwards, with arguments reigning about who should be the All-Australian middle-man.
In an attempt to correct poor contract management, Collingwood was offloaded out of Olympic Park, subsequently landing at the Demons. Initially, the pairing of Grundy and Gawn seemed like a dream come true. The two best ruckmen in the competition playing on the same team; how much better could it get?
Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is anything but a dream scenario. In fact, it's the opposite. Stuck playing in the VFL after struggling to create a successful pairing with Melbourne skipper Gawn, Grundy's time at the Dees seems to already be up.
In 2018, Grundy solidified himself as one of the best ruckmen in the AFL. At Collingwood, Grundy was a crucial contributor in taking his side to a grand final. Despite the result, it was clear that the tapping lieutenant was a certified star of the competition.
Likened to an extra midfielder at centre bounces for the Pies, Grundy was as good of a ruckman as he was an around-the-ground commodity. With speed, agility, a solid kick, and aggression in congestion, the then-24-year-old swiftly proved himself.
His talents were recognised, winning the 2018 Herald Sun Player of the Year and racking up an impressive 17 votes in the Brownlow Medal that year.
Grundy averaged a whopping 40 hit-outs a game in 2018, along with 20.2 disposals and an outstanding 5.2 tackles. There was seemingly nothing that could slow the big man down.
Backing up his breakout year, Grundy continued his hot form in 2019. Averaging career highs with 21.3 disposals and 42.6 hit-outs, Grundy was as dominant as ever.
The Pies once again were solid during the home and away season, before falling short to the GWS Giants in the preliminary final. Although the Pies wasted their chance at securing a Grand Final berth, his performance was widely praised as his dominance was on full display.
Grundy had the third-highest disposal count for the Magpies with 25, along with an extraordinary 73 hitouts.
Since 2019, Grundy's output has steadily declined. His form took a significant pitfall during the COVID-19 pandemic before suffering an injury in 2022 that kept him out for most of the year. Despite his form declining by his lofty standards, his statistics still classed him as one of the best ruckmen in the competition.
As Melbourne's finals campaign came to another disappointing end on Friday night, Grundy's departure is all but imminent in the off-season.
With Port Adelaide previously seen as front-runners for most of the season, it is clear the deal simply isn't going to work out.
With Port Adelaide out of the race, the Sydney Swans are looming as the near-guaranteed home for the former Pies ruckman.
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A move to the Swans would see Grundy return to the adorning number-one ruck role - clearly his preferred and most dominant position.
As a forward at the Dees, Grundy averaged his lowest disposal count since the 2015 season and his lowest hit-out average since 2014.
A move to the Swans would not only benefit the club on the field but Grundy personally. Playing out of position and in the VFL could not have done any good for the ruckman's confidence and a return to form could see his spirits lifted. Playing as the number-one ruckman rather than a rotational player will benefit him.
But how much can he actually help Sydney?
It's definitely a difficult question to answer seeing as Grundy hasn't played consistent AFL footy since 2021. If Grundy can rediscover his previously dominant form, or even half of what made him so great in 2018, the two-time All-Australian will once again be a force to be reckoned with in 2024.
Sydney's ruck stocks are seriously depleted. With the recent retirement of journeyman Tom Hickey and the lack of production from ex-Power utility Peter Ladhams, a bolster to that area of John Longmire's side is needed.
Early in the season, the Swans struggled in the midfield, losing the clearance battle; consistently and continually being overrun. With the addition of Grundy, the Swans should be able to generate some run throughout midfield rather than relying on Nick Blakey off half-back and Errol Gulden on the wing too heavily.
Regarding his tap work in the ruck contest, there's no doubt that Grundy would be elite. The added bonus of his inclusion is his ability to win the ball at ground level and provide options around the ground. The Swans rucks in 2023, namely Hickey, were decent contributors in the ruck itself, but around the ground, Grundy can provide much more.
In 2023, Hickey averaged just over 12 touches a game and 23.7 hit-outs. Despite only playing 17 games for the Demons, and a few out of position, Grundy averaged 14 possessions and 20.5 hit-outs.
Even in a supposed 'down' year for the two-time All-Australian, Grundy was statistically just as good, if not better than the Swans' number-one ruck.
In his final year with the Pies, Grundy averaged 30 hit-outs and just shy of 17 disposals a game. Given the opportunity to return to the number-one ruckman role with the Swans, we could see Grundy flourish once again in a return to form.
Although the forward experiment objectively failed -- even Simon Goodwin admitted it -- Grundy can provide an option in the forward 50. During his time at the Pies, Grundy would occasionally pop up for a goal. There's of course his famous goal against Richmond in 2016 that stands out, but his ability to hit the scoreboard when needed would undoubtedly aid the Swans.
In 2022, the Swans made the Grand Final thanks to their speed in transition. Early in 2023, the Swans midfield run simply wasn't as good as it was the year prior. Although the ruck options were the same in both years, the addition of Grundy would aid the likes of youngsters Chad Warner and Errol Gulden.
When the Magpies made the Grand Final in 2018, it was Grundy who aided the midfield of Adam Treloar, Taylor Adams, Scott Pendlebury, and Steele Sidebottom. Playing as effectively another midfielder, Grundy's presence around the ground and ability to play a whole game with only minor fatigue was a huge factor in the Pies' success.
A fresh start might be the best thing for Grundy. Being sent to the VFL and played out of position, the argument can be made that he was managed rather unfairly.
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Few could genuinely argue a move would do wonders for him. Getting back to his best as Sydney's number-one ruckman, Grundy could genuinely reclaim his throne as the best in the business and provide the Swans the extra boost they need to achieve premiership glory.