Collingwood coach Craig McRae has re-stated his wish for restricted free agent Jordan De Goey to remain a Magpie but concedes there is still plenty to do before that happens.
De Goey’s playing future has been a constant talking point throughout the season and popular opinion now has him staying in black and white after many in the industry believed he was gone a month ago.
The 26-year-old returned spectacularly in the past fortnight after three weeks out with a quad setback, polling the most, or equal-most, votes of any Collingwood player in both games in the AFL Coaches’ award.
“I did notice when he was out with his quad injury that he just got to work – that was really pleasing,” McRae said.
“I said this weeks ago that you’ll see a different Jordy. I felt he had a mini-pre-season and his performance last Friday night (against Melbourne) was an example of the energy he had in himself, and he’d worked hard for that.
“That’s just been a constant since then as well, so he seems like he’s in a good place.”
McRae said his post-match statement that he wanted De Goey at the club next year was made “emotionally and authentically”.
“I think he makes us better. I’ve said that before. I think he’s an important cog. We’ve got many – he’s just one of many – but he certainly does make us better,” he said.
“I said after the game I’d like to have Jordy here … (and) I say that again today. But there’s still a lot to work through, and that’s easy to say, but there’s a lot that has to transpire for that to happen.”
As De Goey’s journey seems increasingly likely to continue at the Pies, the opposite is true for million-dollar ruckman Brodie Grundy, whose availability has piqued the interest of several rival clubs.
Grundy, who is contracted for five more years, won’t return this season after undergoing ankle surgery and may have made his last appearance for Collingwood.
“It’s quite a difficult one for Brodie, because he’s been trying to get back to play and now he’s not, so there’s that emotional disconnect, if you like,” McRae said.
“He’s had an operation early in the week, so there’s this moment where he’s living in this space where he’s not sure, and that’s a difficult place to live, so we’re just trying to support him in the short term.
“I don’t get caught up in (the trade speculation), to be honest. I’ve got a lot of work to do on our ground balls. I spend a lot of time on that … I’m not too sure what the truth is.”
McRae, like Jamie Elliott, Will Hoskin-Elliott and housemates Josh Carmichael, Beau McCreery and Isaac Chugg, was away from the club on Wednesday because of a flu outbreak but said there were “no excuses”.
The Magpies face the similarly in-form Swans at the SCG on Sunday in a contest that could decide each club’s top-four fortunes.
Star midfielder Taylor Adams (groin) is back running and on track to return in the first week of the finals.