Riewoldt hails retiring AFL rival Grundy

St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt (L) says Swan Heath Grundy is one of the toughest players he's faced.
St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt (L) says Swan Heath Grundy is one of the toughest players he's faced.

AFL great Nick Riewoldt has lavished praise on retired Swan opponent Heath Grundy, saying he was never able to dominate the rugged Sydney defender.

Grundy on Wednesday announced the end of his 256-game career due to a lingering back injury, which didn't allow him to play after round one.

Former St Kilda champion forward Riewoldt, who played more games against Sydney than any other club, frequently matched up on Grundy, who he said embodied the Swans and their famous Bloods culture

"Every time in my entire career, you came up against him, you knew you were in for a really tough day," Riewoldt said on Fox Footy's AFL 360 on Wednesday.

'"(Grundy was) so good once he had you in his vicinity.

"His ability to control your body, to get your hips off the line and to wrap you up and allow you not to be able to launch, he was just such a strong competitor as a player but he made your life really difficult.

"I don't know how many times we played on each other, I never got hold of him once, three or four (goals) might have been the best I ever did against him.

"I never dominated a game playing on him because he was just such a hard player to beat."

Riewoldt's fellow AFL 360 panellist and former Western Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy said his lasting impression of Grundy was his performance in the 2016 grand final.

"I sat in the (Bulldogs) coaches box and a lot of the coach conversations were around Grundy's influence," Murphy recalled.

'He just kept marking the ball, the Dogs couldn't find a way through ... it was him.

"It was 'how do we stop Grundy, how can we stop his influence?'"

Grundy was upbeat about the new-look Swans backline, who have been without Nick Smith for the whole season and missing Jarrad McVeigh for the last six games.

"Aliir (Allir) has gone to another level this year, Pel (Lewis Melican) has really stepped up," Grundy said.

"Lloydy (Jake Lloyd) at halfback and Colin (O'Riordan) on the weekend was super for us and Ramps (Dane Rampe) is having an unbelievable season, so I think it's exciting for the next tier coming through."

Australian Associated Press