Kane Cornes has labelled Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin “stubborn” for his refusal to play out-of-favour ruckman Brodie Grundy in the heartbreaking two-point loss to Carlton in Friday’s semi final.
The loss resulted in the Demons’ second consecutive straight-sets exit from the finals, with Grundy not even selected as a medical substitute as Josh Schache received that spot instead despite playing just three games for the whole season. Schache did not end up getting used on the night.
After initially selling Grundy on a dream partnership with club captain Max Gawn, Goodwin and the Demons abandoned the ruck tandem for the back half of the year.
Grundy was dropped after round 17 and played just one more match (against Carlton in round 22) before being left out of Goodwin’s side for both finals.
Cornes said he was “staggered” that Melbourne did not believe Grundy deserved a spot in its best 23, as the two-time All-Australian closes in on an exit after just one season at the club.
“Why do you have to be so stubborn? Yeah, it worked for that period of time, but then things change throughout the season and you get some challenges and some injuries,” Cornes said on SEN on Monday.
“If Brodie Grundy is not in your best 23 in the lead up to a final, I’d be staggered.
“It’s not a hindsight one, I was adamant with that during the week. At worst, as the sub.”
Cornes broke down where he believed Grundy could have had the biggest impact on Friday night.
“To not have the ability to be able to push (Max) Gawn forward — he, at times, looked like the only threat,” he said.
“At times, they had (Tom) McDonald and (Christian) Petracca in the ruck. I thought that was too stubborn of them not to move when they needed to move and play Brodie Grundy in a final.”
The Port Adelaide champion said Grundy could have had as big an impact as Collingwood’s Mason Cox has as a sub in the past.
‘How exciting’: Lloyd urges Grundy to move on
“Remember Mason Cox came on as the sub against Brisbane and he was ravenous, jumping and pounding in at centre bonce and almost changed the course of that game,” Cornes said.
“Imagine if Grundy had come on late in the quarter and then you push Gawn forward, the energy (Grundy) would’ve provided around the ball.
“Instead you’ve got Josh Schache — what’s he going to provide for you? Nothing.”
As for the big man’s future, Grundy is likely to land at Sydney during the trade period, after recently meeting with the Swans. It will likely cost the Swans a second-round pick in return.
The AFL trade period begins on Monday, October 9 and ends on Wednesday, October 18.