AFL: Nathan Buckley reveals regret over Brodie Grundy contract

Former Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has revealed his regret over the mega contract given to Brodie Grundy in 2019, saying it negatively affected the ruckman and the Magpies.

Buckley said the Magpies had settled on a decision to trade Grundy at the end of the 2019 season, but the football department was told to find the money to sign the reigning dual best and fairest to a seven-year deal.

The decision did not stop the reigning premier’s resurgence under Craig McRae, but Buckley was left to rue what it did to the core of his side in his final two seasons at the helm.

The Magpies great, who resigned as coach when his side slumped to the foot of the ladder midway through the 2021 season, said he had been prepared to make the bold decision to move on the back-to-back Copeland Trophy winner and dual All-Australian to free up salary cap space, but the final decision had caused pain for Grundy and the club and resulted in the departures of quartet Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson, James Aish and Tom Phillips.

“If Brodie had have moved, whether it would have been free agency or trade at the end of 2019, he would’ve been a dual Copeland Trophy winner, back-to-back … and it probably would’ve looked mad letting a player like Brodie go, but it was definitely the move that we should have made,” Buckley told SEN on Monday.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it would have been better for the club, and it would have been better for Brodie.

“If you move in a different direction, Brodes gets back to Adelaide, he’s happy at the Adelaide Crows … who knows what would’ve happened over that side, but we definitely would’ve been in better shape.”

Buckley confirmed the Collingwood board had intervened to stop the football department offering Grundy up for a trade.

“There were definitely conversations that took place internally that considered that alternative … it was prevalent in our thinking through 2019,” he said.

“Apparently we found a way to keep him (financially) … which has since proven to be a rod for the club’s back and for Brodie’s.

“He was playing awesome football, the best ruckman in the league with Max Gawn, All-Australian, and had proven himself as one of the hottest commodities in the game, but you’ve still got to weigh that up against everything else.”

Buckley said he regretted being the “frontman” of the subsequent move to push Adam Treloar out of the club at the end of 2020 due to his high salary, which had hurt his relationship with the midfielder.

“What precipitated 12 months later with pushing Adam Treloar out, and even at the end of 2019 James Aish was encouraged to go to Fremantle,” he said.

“There were some players that were happy who were asked to leave, and that’s really hard, that’s a tough position to be in.

“My regrets were probably taking so much accountability for being the frontman of that (Treloar) conversation … I would probably have either left that to (list manager) Ned Guy or (football boss) Geoff Walsh … I’d had an existing relationship with Ads and felt responsible for the position we were in.”

Buckley said he was surprised by Grundy’s move to the Demons, where he was “superfluous to them”, but thought he could play two seasons of his best football as Sydney’s new No.1 ruckman.

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