However, signing Grundy on such a long-term deal appears riskier than the decisions of the Giants to secure Josh Kelly, Stephen Coniglio and Lachie Whitfield on deals of at least seven years that end when they are all well into their 30s.

The Tigers gave seven-year contracts to Dustin Martin (33 at the end of his contract) and Tom Lynch (also 33 when his contract expires), a call Punt Road can already justify.

Brodie Grundy with teammate Ben Reid at Collingwood training.Credit:Getty Images

The risk is not about Grundy’s talent.

Grundy is those five players’ equal with consecutive best and fairests and All-Australian selection in the past two seasons (it would have been hard for Collingwood to argue to Grundy’s manager Robbie D’Orazio that he wasn’t worth what the others were worth).

The risk surrounds the value of ruckmen compared to champion midfielders or key forwards when determining how vital they are to winning a premiership.

How much of a salary cap does a club want to allocate on a ruckman, albeit the best one in the game?

At the moment a star key forward such as Lynch, Jeremy Cameron or Jack Riewoldt is the AFL equivalent to a quarterback in the NFL, the money men, with midfielders more akin – in determining value only – to a left tackle or a defensive end.

Where a ruckman sits is less clear as just one of the past 10 premiership teams have included a ruckman that finished top 10 in the club’s best and fairest.

That player was retired Western Bulldog Tom Boyd who was signed on mega bucks as a key forward before realising his value forever, with his performances in the ruck in the 2016 preliminary and grand final.

Loading

The marginal returns a star ruckman delivers over an everyday ruckman are lower than the ones a star forward provides when compared to a makeshift forward.

Toby Nankervis, Ivan Soldo, Scott Lycett, Nathan Vardy, Max Bailey and Ben McEvoy are not Hall of Fame ruckman as Grundy may well become but they are premiership ruckmen.

What all those ruckmen had, too, were star forwards ahead of them on grand final day with the Magpies relying on Brodie Mihocek and Mason Cox as well as Jordan De Goey – who is a genuine star – at the moment.

Of course, the Magpies are likely to have structured the contract in such a manner to give them flexibility over the course of the deal (and the inevitable increase in the salary cap will see the proportion he commands diminish), however Grundy is still set to earn more than he may have if he’d signed for five seasons and renogiated when he was 31.

Collingwood will also see Grundy not just as a ruckman but as a hybrid player who can win games off his own boot playing as almost an extra midfielder.

But that doesn’t remove questions about his longevity even with players performing better for longer as conditioning methods and management of players improves.

Although he is durable, playing every game last season and 89 per cent game time, Grundy virtually carries the burden on his own with back-up needed for him at some point.

The other question that has hovered is whether Collingwood could have afforded to lose Grundy.

If the Magpies had landed a flag in the past two seasons – losing a grand final and a preliminary final by under a kick – then a Grundy departure may have been more palatable.

Loading

But at the moment, supporters still assume that clubs can’t afford to lose their best player so if the Magpies had wanted to frame a reasonable, albeit controversial argument about letting Grundy walk they may well have been shouted down (who would be a list manager?).

Still, Geelong and Hawthorn supporters got over the loss of Gary Ablett and Lance Franklin when the clubs they left won flags the season after they departed.

In the end the uncertainty of losing Grundy became an even bigger risk than locking the star in for seven years with his form for the next few seasons at least, when Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom are still firing, virtually guaranteed.

But if a premiership doesn’t land at Collingwood or Melbourne – who hae the game’s other great ruckman Max Gawn – during Grundy or Gawn’s careers, then good luck to the next champion big man getting such a long deal.

While the players hold the cards at the moment, there will come a time soon enough when clubs take the punt on losing a star rather than locking them in until retirement.

Most Viewed in Sport

Loading



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here