Grundy’s continued absence means Mason Cox is likely to retain his spot up forward and as back-up ruckman to Darcy Cameron, as the Magpies seek to lock in a top-four berth.
Grundy is also now likely to have only two senior games, against Sydney and Carlton, to show coach Craig McRae he is ready for the finals.
His absence has allowed Cameron to emerge as the No.1 ruck, prompting debate whether the Magpies’ should seek to trade Grundy, who is contracted until 2027 on a lucrative $7 million deal.
Cameron can also be used as a specialist forward but Grundy is at his best in the ruck.
Industry sources say Greater Western Sydney have an interest Grundy, who could be used in a trade for Tim Taranto, who is set to leave the Giants.
The Magpies have lost midfielder Taylor Adams (groin) for the rest of the home-and-away season, while forward Brody Mihocek will need to provide his fitness after missing the win over Port Adelaide with a hip issue.
Midfielders Callum Brown and Finlay Macrae were dominant against Southport in the VFL last weekend and are under consideration for a senior recall, while forward Ollie Henry, who has yet to find common ground in contract discussions with the club, booted three goals.
The Magpies say contract negotiations with veteran forward Jamie Elliott are proceeding well.
The Demons also have selection issues. Hardnut James Harmes, who has been in concussion protocols, and forward Ben Brown (knee) face fitness tests.
Carlton trio down
Carlton defender Nic Newman will be sidelined for the rest of the season while Corey Durdin and Matt Kennedy remain down for the count.
Newman sustained a deep gash to the knee during the Blues’ 29-point loss to Adelaide last Saturday. The 29-year-old went under the knife early this week to treat and mend the wound, but the club confirmed on Wednesday that his recovery from him is expected to extend past the season.
Midfielder Kennedy and forward Durdin are sporting a concussion and shoulder injury respectively.
The club said Durdin will miss at least one week after aggravating his shoulder against the Crows. Kennedy will not be available for selection for at least two weeks after entering the 12-day concussion protocols following a significant knock to the head during the second half of the game, which also left him with a fractured jaw.
Liam Stocker will not be able to replace Newman after suffering his own concussion in the VFL.
With midfielder George Hewett still recovering from a back injury, the Blues’ final chances hang in the balance as they sit seventh on the ladder.
The Blues will face the Brisbane Lions, who are currently in fifth, at the MCG on Sunday.
‘We investigate everybody’: Ratten says Saints haven’t cooled on De Goey
St Kilda coach Brett Ratten says the club has not “cooled” on Collingwood’s free agent star Jordan De Goey after The Age reported that the board asked the Saints’ football department to further examine the drama-prone player.
In a board meeting last Thursday night, the board asked the club executive to gather additional information about De Goey to help determine whether the Saints should continue to pursue the controversial 26-year-old.
Ratten said the board’s request was part of a normal process undertaken whenever a new player is under consideration, and that it did not indicate any loss of interest in a possible “long-term contract for a player of his quality”.
“It’s like all free agents, I think. We investigate everybody, especially when you’re bringing a high-profile player in,” Ratten told reporters on Wednesday morning.
“I think all boards ask for information. That’s not different from our footy club or other footy clubs.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re employing new staff members or players, we have to run things past the board, and they have the right to challenge and ask questions and see where we’re at with it.”
De Goey has come under scrutiny this year after a video was released showing the player purportedly trying to remove the bikini top of a female friend at a Bali nightclub during Collingwood’s bye week. He was also arrested in New York last November, where he was guilty of harassment in the second degree after an altercation at a nightclub.
Ratten refused to indicate what type of questions were asked about De Goey at the meeting, but noted the player’s undeniable talent while reiterating that no decision had yet been made.
St Kilda enjoyed a 12-point win against Hawthorn in round 20 and will face first-placed Geelong at the GMHBA on Saturday night. With the return of vice-captain Dougal Howard this week, and midfielder Dan Hannebery last week, Ratten believes the Saints can hang on to their position in the final eight as the end of the regular season looms.
Battle ready: Saints lock in Josh for two more seasons
St Kilda defender Josh Battle has recommitted to the Saints for at least the next two seasons.
Announced on Wednesday afternoon, the contract extension means the 23-year-old will remain in the red, black and white until the end of 2024.
The versatile player has become a key part of the Saints’ line-up, showing ability both as a ruck and a defensive force. His commitment to him to the club comes as he enjoys a career-best season, averaging 16.9 disposals, 12.4 kicks and 1.9 tackles.
He follows in the footsteps of recent signees Dan Butler, Cooper Sharman and Ben Paton as well as long-term extensions Rowan Marshall, Jack Steele and Max King.
St Kilda’s head of list management James Gallagher said Battle’s extension was a proud achievement for the club.
“Josh is a hard-working, dedicated young man who plays his role for the team week-in, week-out,” Gallagher said.
“He’s a fierce competitor on-field who is willing to put his body on the line, which has earned him a great deal of respect from his teammates.”
Battle joined the Saints at the age of 17 as number 39 in the 2016 national draft. Gallagher praised the fan favorite for his commitment to improving both as an individual and a footballer.
“His performances are a reflection of that commitment, plus a growing maturity that we have seen in Josh and a number of his teammates.
“We look forward to seeing more of Josh in the years ahead and hope to see his development continue to have an influence on those around him.”
Roos torn on AFL or VFL return for Cunnington
North Melbourne are torn over whether to pick courageous midfielder Ben Cunnington in the AFL or ease him back into football through the reserves.
The Kangaroos veteran has not played since round 19, 2021 after battling testicular cancer. But Cunnington is set to finally be available to play this weekend in a major boost for the struggling club.
Caretaker North coach Leigh Adams is weighing up whether to bring Cunnington in for their clash with the Sydney Swans at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, or ease him back via the VFL against the same opponents at Arden St.
The 31-year-old was tracking well to return last month before tweaking his calf at training, and last week tested positive for COVID-19.
“He has to get through main skills, then we’ll have the discussion with the performance team whether we think it’s best for him to have a run around in the twos for a week or bring him straight back in,” Adams said on Wednesday .
“I’m pretty sure I know what his preference is and the coach’s preference, it will be just what’s best for his body going forward.
“At this time of year, it’s a great story for us and the motivation for the group and for the footy club.”
Adams admits the coaches face a tough decision but will be guided by the medical staff.
Cunnington was still one of the Kangaroos’ best midfielders before his cancer battle and he has been sorely missed by the club this season. He has played 227 games for North since being taken with pick five in the 2009 draft.
“The last thing we’d want to do is he breaks down and he’s out for the rest of the year,” Adams said.
“It’s probably going to be the VFL, even though we’d love it to be straight back in. Deep down I know he’d love to play seniors, particularly being a game in Melbourne this weekend and we travel next weekend.
“To have his support network and his family that have been through so much with him at the game would be fantastic.”
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