Brodie Grundy Melbourne contract, Jordan De Goey avoids St Kilda, Graham Wright interview, Craig McRae

Two senior Collingwood officials have opened up about the club’s hectic trading period in 2022. Football boss Graham Wright admitted he feared the Pies would lose Jordan De Goey to a rival, and manager Craig McRae pointed to the “misdirection” surrounding Brodie Grundy’s exit.

The Magpies have been one of the most active teams in terms of player movement during the offseason. They acquired Bobby Hill, Daniel McStay, Billy Frampton and Tom Mitchell from rival clubs but lost contracted Grundy to Melbourne, as well as Ollie Henry to Geelong.

It was also suggested that the Magpies would lose De Goey after an extended contractual break between the two parties.

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De Goey would eventually sign a five-year extension to remain at Collingwood, but not before scaring Wright and the Magpies as rival clubs circled the star. St Kilda in particular were tough on De Goey and offered him a long-term contract.

In an extensive interview with the Herald SunWright acknowledged there was a period last year when he thought the Pies were going to lose De Goey to the Saints.

Jordan De Goey and Magpies head coach Craig McRae. Image: Quinn RooneySource: Getty Images

When asked why he was so concerned, Wright told dem Herald Sun: “He was a free agent, so he had the right to explore and do whatever he wanted. And we’ve had a few issues in the last 12 months, I think quite frankly without “Fly” (McRae) being here he might have tried to do something else. He has a great relationship with Fly, but he also has a great relationship with many of his… They’ve helped him on his journey and they love him.

“He had a lot of support here and he knows it. He is a very popular teammate. But we had a pretty solid 12 months and were able to get through it. It was really important that we kept him and really important that he wanted to stay.”

Wright said he was with other Collingwood officers the night before the 2022 free agency period began when De Goey’s manager Ryan Vague called to confirm his client would remain at the Pies.

“[We]had a bite to prepare for free agency and we quickly pulled out a bottle of wine[to celebrate],” Wright said.

Jordan De Goey and senior coach Craig McRae. Image: Michael WilliamsonSource: Getty Images

Although De Goey underwent a minor arthroscopy on his right shoulder in December, he appears in great shape ahead of the 2023 season.

Speak with AgeMcRae said he’s “never seen him (De Goey) happier.”

“He came back and had an operation which wasn’t ideal, but he was able to walk and he just looks happy. And I think when someone is happy in their life, they tend to be the best version of themselves in everything they do. Right now, and it’s early days, but if you look at him, he’s smiling and engaging and leading,” McRae told The Age.

“He has a presence in terms of his leadership that I’ve never seen before. He’s invested so fingers crossed it makes for a good season for him.

“We’re going to put him around more than we can in his previous career, but I think his fitness allows him to do that. I think we have a good system that allows him to do that. He will still play up front, but I think you see him more in midfield, especially early on.”

While the Magpies retained De Goey, they lost Grundy to Melbourne, who received the majority of the last five years from Grundy’s lucrative seven-year contract. The Magpies will reportedly pay part of Grundy’s contract, which is valued at around $900,000 per season.

Brodie Grundy has teamed up with Max Gawn in the Demons. Image: Michael KleinSource: News Corp Australia

Collingwood also acquired McStay from Brisbane through free agency, with the key forward inking a five-year deal believed to be worth around $600,000 a season.

But McRae insisted that McStay’s arrival and Grundy’s departure were unrelated.

“I would like to put on record that there was some misconception that Brodie had to leave to fit Dan McStay. It’s just not true,” he said.

“We talked for an hour about what that might look like and then the reality is I think it’s best for Collingwood Football Club that they move on. That’s where we got to but it was through a heavy heart and a compromise because I really care about you Brodie but the bottom line is we’re making decisions for what we think is best for the football club and we have that we met at that time.

Wright said Grundy was “a little heartbroken” about his departure from Collingwood as he “thought he was going to stay here forever,” but added he didn’t think there wasn’t bitterness between the two parties after a decision was made had been.

When asked if the decision to trade Grundy was “primarily a salary cap issue,” Wright said, “It was primarily the[salary]cap. We’ve been pretty open with Brodie and his management. In the end, the decision for us is not a short-term one, but a medium to long-term one. What had happened in the past had happened and we had to deal with what would happen in the future.”

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After acquiring McStay, Hill and Frampton in the exchange period, the Pies turned their attention to Mitchell ahead of the deadline, with Wright saying that a Mitchell move “had to work financially” for it to happen.

Wright said the only reason the Henry-Geelong deal went through last year was because it somehow conjured up a three-way deal in which the Magpies land Mitchell and the Hawks acquire Cooper Stephens from the Cats. But the Magpies’ boss of football conceded: “We still felt like we were defeated by Ollie. We thought he was a pick under 20 and we ended up with 25 or something.”

McRae didn’t want Henry to leave but understood why he wanted to join Geelong. The Pies coach cheekily added: “Who knows, maybe we’ll bring him back!?”

Wright joined Collingwood months after the club’s turbulent trading period in 2020, which saw Pies Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson and Tom Phillips lose to rival clubs due to a salary cap.

Two and a half years later, Wright said the cap mess was “pretty much” fixed after a couple of years of being “really smart about how we spent our money.”

When asked if the football world can expect Collingwood to be busy in trading and free agency over the next 12 months, Wright said, “We’re going to be active… Not so much a big name. But we’re going to be really active, whether it’s free agency or trading.” Brodie Grundy Melbourne contract, Jordan De Goey avoids St Kilda, Graham Wright interview, Craig McRae

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