Returning Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy says his VFL stint has made him a better footballer ahead of their must-win clash with Brisbane on Saturday night at the MCG.
The ninth-placed Magpies have plenty on the line with the AFL finals fast approaching and need Grundy back to his best.
The 20-year-old had a stellar debut season last year, when he kept Darren Jolly out of the line-up.
He has spent the past four games in the VFL but on the back of a man of the match performance – booting three goals – has earned a recall to the senior side.
Following their 60-point loss to West Coast Collingwood have also brought in gun midfielder Dane Swan, over a foot injury, as well as veteran Luke Ball.
Grundy said he felt his game had improved over the past month.
“I’m not really disappointed (to have played in the VFL) because I’m still only 20 years old, I’m still developing and learning as I go,” Grundy said on Friday.
“Playing a bit last year towards the end of the season put a bit of an unrealistic expectation on myself.
“I’ve been able to get some good development in playing in the twos the last few weeks.
“I feel like my training has really improved and gone to the next level over the last month.”
Grundy, small forward Ben Kennedy and midfielder Tim Broomhead will play their first AFL match together since arriving at Collingwood via the 2012 national draft.
The South Australian trio have formed a tight bond at the Magpies and with Kennedy and Broomhead off contract, hope to have a big future there together.
Kennedy is close to agreeing to terms, with the youngster resisting interest from home town clubs Adelaide and Port Adelaide.
He said the young brigade wanted to help Collingwood into the AFL finals, with a win over the 15th-placed Lions key to that.
Brisbane had an insipid 105-point loss to Adelaide but Kennedy said that didn’t mean they could take their opponents lightly.
The Lions have resisted bringing ruckman Matthew Leuenberger back into the top side with Claye Beams for Nick Robertson their only change.
“Our season’s on the line but we’ve still got a chance to make the finals and us young blokes have got the opportunity to contribute to that so I’m excited,” Kennedy said.
“Brisbane will be looking to knock teams out that have the opportunity to play finals footy.
“We’re going to treat this game as a very important game and we’ll be going out there and having a crack and I’m sure they will too.”