Former Collingwood captain and coach Nathan Buckley has addressed Brodie Grundy's current situation at Melbourne, as well as Nick Daicos' increasing Brownlow Medal chances, as he addressed the media on Monday ahead of his 'The Carlton Draft' appearance.
Buckley, who will be the sixth and final ex-AFL star to return to local football as part of the promotional initiative, will lace up the boots for Nilma Darnum Football Netball Club in the Ellenbank and District Football League this upcoming Sunday.
This weekend's fixture will represent the Collingwood legend's first proper footballing outing since he retired as a Magpie in 2007.
"Saying 'yes' to [playing] six months ago is very different to being six days away from actually having to pull the boots on and having a crack," Buckley jested on Monday.
"To say that my preparation has been shoddy is an understatement. I haven't been hit or hurt for 16 years, early days in coaching I might've thrown myself into a stoppage if the numbers were uneven, but that would've been ten years ago.
"I'm going to be a sore and sorry boy on Sunday night."
Following questions about his anticipated playing return, Buckley was quizzed on numerous contentious topics, including Collingwood's irresistible flag chances, Daicos' blistering Brownlow-contending season, and Grundy's complex circumstances at Melbourne, as well as a blunt response to a Gold Coast coaching query.
Despite his current neutral role as a figurehead of the football media, Buckley stated he's still a big Collingwood fan, revelling in their current successes, as well as revealing he attended Saturday's convincing win over Fremantle.
"Yeah, absolutely (I enjoy Collingwood's success as a fan), I came along on Saturday arvo (to the Fremantle game), just to observe what the boys are doing, it's been first class, they're in great form, clearly the best-performed team at this point, and a lot of those guys I've rubbed shoulders with (in the past) and have been involved with for quite a while."
While Buckley acknowledges his Pies have been the best team in the competition to this point in the year, he warned that the real work is yet to start, as finals football is fast approaching.
"I know they've been in this position a few times, the real stuff's going to happen over the next couple of months, I certainly hope that they can get rewarded for being around the mark for long enough."
Buckley also spent time praising rising superstar Daicos, who is firming for a Brownlow Medal triumph at the conclusion of the season, even comparing the second-year father-son gun to Brownlow medallist and former Magpies icon Dan Swan.
"He's exceptional," said Buckley. "You couldn't have a bloke speculated on more than he has been (throughout the season), he just seems to thrive [on] every challenge, whether it's half-back, in front of the ball, or on the ball.
"To be sitting here, two-thirds into a player's second year at the level, and to be that clear a Brownlow favourite says a little bit about what he's been able to do in the game.
"He's an exceptional talent and it's been fun to watch him, I would've loved to coach him, that would've made life a bit easier, but he's a rare talent.
"You think about Dane Swan back in the day, he had about six different ways to get out of pressure or out of congestion, and Nick's probably got six or seven."
On Grundy, an ex-Magpie who played a starring role under Buckley during his Collingwood tenure, was dropped by Simon Goodwin's Demons following their Round 17 win over St Kilda, sidelined for Friday night's thrilling triumph over the Brisbane Lions.
The ponytailed Demon has had to adapt to a different role since crossing over from Olympic Park, playing more time forward of the ball due to skipper Max Gawn's presence.
Buckley addressed rampant speculation regarding Grundy's best fit in the Demons' side and whether his management should explore another trade for him at the end of the year.
"He's a ruckman, he's a ruckman first and foremost," Buckley started by claiming.
"It's now Melbourne's responsibility to work out how they can utilise him. We sort of think (as an industry) that it needs to be week-to-week but you need a list across the season, so if we take a step back, it doesn't hurt to have both of those guys (Grundy and Max Gawn) on the list, but if they're both number one ruckmen and pretty much the best exponents of their craft at the level, it's going to be a focus when they're not playing senior footy."
Buckley commended Gawn's tremendous showing on Friday, noting Grundy's splits between the ruck and forward of the ball as the likely key sticking point for the Demons.
"I don't know how Brodie went in the [practice] game, but if he plays he'll be playing 40 per cent ruck and 25-30 per cent forward, so it's obviously that 25-30 per cent that they're (Melbourne) looking for, 'Brodes' will want to contribute as best he can, but when the music stops, he's a ruckman."
Quizzed on the possibility of Grundy exploring trade options again at the end of this year, claiming it would be 'unsettling' for him to jet off to a third club, especially so soon after joining the Demons.
"He's probably had a look at that (the opportunity to be the number one ruck) before he made the decision to come to Melbourne, I don't know what the conversations would have been, but that's a big-picture conversation," said Buckley.
"I know it would be quite unsettling for 'Brodes' to go to another club, I'd suspect there's still a fair bit to work itself out before that would be an option.
"He'll (Grundy) be working ten times as hard to contribute at the club at the top level as soon as he can."
Before concluding his comments on the hot topic, Buckley affirmed Grundy's preferred position on the ground as a ruckman.
"Brodie's been a ruckman through his junior career, he's played forward at times but only to pinch-hit and only to have a breather," stated Buckley.
"He's cut his teeth as a number one ruckman, he has had some time in the forward line and you do need to develop another role, but it's not natural to him to be playing in that role, compared to what we see of him in the ruck."
Buckley wrapped up Monday's press conference by shutting down any association with a potential coaching role with the Gold Coast Suns, offering a categorical "no".