AFL hitouts a 'furphy': Pies coach Buckley

·2-min read

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has labelled the hitout statistic a "furphy" after the Magpies slipped to a one-point AFL loss to Brisbane despite Brodie Grundy's monster performance in the ruck.

Grundy was up against inexperienced Lions pair Tom Fullarton and Connor Ballenden and the Magpies won the hitouts 63-4, with Grundy notching 54 along with five clearances and 28 disposals.

But despite Grundy's dominance, Brisbane only lost the clearance count by five (35-30) and won the inside-50s 58-53, along with Thursday night's match.

"There's an over-emphasis on certain parts of the game and one of the things that there's an over-emphasis on is hit-outs. It's not a stat that has a strong correlation," Buckley said.

"When you know you're going to lose the hit-outs, you can actually set up pretty well at ground level to be able to buffer that - so that's what sides without a dominant ruckman do.

"Brodie's not just a hit-outs ruckman, he follows up, he's a midfielder and that's what he provides to us and that's what he gives us and he played particularly well.

"The hit-out differential is largely irrelevant, it's actually what we do at ground level with that. He still had hit-outs to advantage but the hit-out stat's a furphy."

Buckley emphasised Grundy had still been among the game's better players but conceded the midfield battle had been relatively even despite his dominance.

"In the end, would Brodie have been one of the strongest performers on the field? I would have thought so," he said.

"But there'll be a query on 'can you maximise his dominance' and I'd say it was pretty even midfields against one another at ground level and you saw a pretty even contest."

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan was delighted with his inexperienced ruck duo.

"Brodie Grundy won the contest but how well did (Fullarton) hang in there?" he said.

"He just did bits and pieces that helped the team and that's what tonight was all about - everyone playing their role.

"Our midfield coaches in Ben Hudson and Dale Tapping did a lot of work this week on the fact that we'd probably lose the taps - so how (could) we mitigate against that at ground level?

"I thought our guys tonight did a great job at doing that."