Grundy takes in the sights during a trek in Peru.
Grundy takes in the sights during a trek in Peru.

The authentic Grundy: Touring Peru with Pies star

Brodie Grundy sits in a wall-less shack at the Nape Lodge in the middle of the Peruvian Amazon.

The heat is wet, the sky is low and howler monkeys and macaws shriek from the surrounding jungle.


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A Peruvian healer and guide by the name of Victor approaches the All-Australian ruckman with an intense look in his eyes. In his small hands he holds three potions, each made from leaves and roots nearby, each purportedly with near-magical properties. One is black like tar and heals the joints, another looks like swamp water and boosts the immune system. And the third? The one that looks like melted honey?

"Bang, bang," Victor says. Sexual potency and general energy.

Grundy has a choice. Which potion?

Brodie Grundy gets a handball away during another All-Australian season with Collingwood.
Brodie Grundy gets a handball away during another All-Australian season with Collingwood.

Meanwhile, 14,000km away in Melbourne, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has a choice in front of him, too.

Before leaving for Peru, Grundy, who could become the hottest free agent in the upcoming season, told Collingwood the best way to get him to re-sign with the club was for it to offer him a seven-year contract extension, estimated to be worth $1 million a season.

This would be one of the most lucrative in AFL history. It would certainly be the biggest contract ever given to a ruckman.

Grundy's a rare talent.

He's only 25 and still improving, having coming to football late through basketball.

The Magpies would be concerned however, about the money, about the years and about the precedent it could set at the club.

Jordan De Goey, Scott Pendlebury and Darcy Moore are all going into free agency this season and Collingwood can't pay all of the trio what Grundy is asking for.

Commit to Grundy and the salary cap squeeze at Collingwood could mean a star has to move on.

If the club doesn't agree to Grundy's terms, they're in danger of losing arguably their most important player, likely to Grundy's hometown club - Adelaide Crows.

McGuire's decision in Melbourne is a tough one.

Grundy's decision in the Amazon is not so hard.

Grundy politely declines all three jungle juices and instead takes a long slug from his water bottle.

Perhaps Collingwood doesn't know exactly where Grundy is right now, but the AFL's anti-doping agency, ASADA, surely does.


The tour group Brodie Grundy and his partner Rachael were a part of.
The tour group Brodie Grundy and his partner Rachael were a part of.


Each off-season Grundy and his partner, 25-year-old physiotherapist Rachael Wertheim, escape from Melbourne, football and fame and head overseas.

Forgoing the standard frond-fringed beach holiday or luxury hotel hopping of the United States or Asia, Grundy says he prefers something a bit more audacious.

Last off-season he and Wertheim trekked to the Mt Everest base camp with Australian small-group adventure outfit Intrepid Travel.

Grundy says he liked that trip so much he chose to sign up to be an ambassador for the company and their not-for-profit arm, Intrepid Foundation.

This year Grundy undertook another tour with Intrepid - a 10-day trip through Peru that starts in a Peruvian jungle before heading into the Andean Mountains through the famed ruins of Machu Picchu and finishing in the old Incan capital of Cusco.

"In Melbourne I live quite a sheltered life," Grundy says.

"My life seems very interesting from the outside, and it is - I love my job, don't get me wrong - but it can be a bit monotonous sometimes. I reckon at my age it's important to travel and get a different perspective on life."

Brodie Grundy enjoys himself at a Peruvian bar.
Brodie Grundy enjoys himself at a Peruvian bar.

The jungle part of the trip was primarily about connecting with nature, and the capybara, river otters, alligators, tarantulas and piranhas that we met along the way.

The second, in the highlands of the country, was about connecting to history, specifically the Incas, a mighty mountain empire that ruled all of modern Peru until the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century.

After the Amazon, Grundy, his partner and I travelled to the town of Ollantaytambo, a famed stronghold of Incan resistance against the Spanish, where we planned to trek in the mountains for three days, cresting two peaks at roughly 4500m above sea-level.

After a few hours of trekking, with Incan ruins above us and a huge glacial waterfall below, Grundy said quietly to himself: "Eddie would love this."



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A message for the Prez.

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Gundy stopped to film a video for his Instagram account, recording the splendour around us before flipping the camera around for a personal message to Eddie McGuire: "Get here, mate."

The next day Luke Darcy invited Eddie McGuire on to his breakfast radio show to discuss the potential hidden subtext of the post.

Darcy suggested that Grundy wasn't trying to get Eddie to Peru, but to Grundy's position on the contract he'd asked from.

Truth is, Grundy wasn't thinking about footy or contracts.

In fact, he barely talked about either for 10 days. He just likes Eddie and wants him to go on the best holiday he can.

"I used to train the whole time and waste the day when we were away," Grundy says. "Rachael would get so shitty, because she'd want to experience the place we were in. Now I pay attention. I'm present."

A few hours afterwards, with the afternoon sun catching clouds above and below us, we set up camp for the night on a spot roughly 4100m above sea level.

It was there that things started to go wrong for the superstar ruckman and his partner.

Perhaps it was altitude sickness, perhaps gastro but either way Grundy and his partner were violently sick by sunset. Where was Victor and his magic potions when you needed him?

Brodie Grundy takes to the water.
Brodie Grundy takes to the water.

With the only way off the mountain a very long and arduous walk, Grundy and Wertheim were forced to endure a very uncomfortable night.

"I'll save everyone the horrible details, but when it turned for both of us in the tent, we looked at each other and laughed. Just seeing the state that we're in," Grundy says.

"I knew we were in trouble, but it was just so funny to us. It just got us closer even together."

In the morning the pair very slowly made their way back down the mountain; the peak having to wait for a later date.

"Things happen when you travel and you just have to deal with it. It's great to take that mentality home and stay calm," Wertheim says.

"Being resilient is really useful for me in my work and I reckon it'd be super useful for Brodie's work, too."


Grundy takes in the sights during a trek in Peru.
Grundy takes in the sights during a trek in Peru.


Grundy doesn't train while overseas. He used to, but not anymore. He used to be very strict about what he ate in the off-season, but that's pretty much gone, too.

"I used to find it had to disconnect from footy and I used to keep up my physical appearance. It was a little bit of ego, I reckon. I had a problem not being cut and in shape … If anything I've perhaps gone a little bit too far in the other direction,' he laughs.

As a result, Grundy has the tiniest beginning of a belly at the end of our trip.

In a cafe in the ancient city of Cusco he pushes it out and sucks it in and pushes it out and sucks it in to the absolute delight of our waitress, who pats Grundy's belly and giggles.

The cafe we're in is called Manos Unidas (translation: 'Joined Hands').

It's a not-for-profit business funded by the Intrepid Foundation that hires exclusively intellectually impaired youth as their wait staff. One of the staff has taken a real shine to Grundy who, at 203cm is a giant compared to the diminutive Peruvians. They have no shared language but seeing them interact is a wonderful scene.

"When I'm in Melbourne I have to have my guard up sometimes, but when I'm overseas you can be your authentic self," Grundy says.

"I work bloody hard in the pre-season and will be ready to go when the season starts, but now it's time for something else. My body will be ready next season and my mind will be, too.

"I reckon it's going to be a good year."

Brodie Grundy tries his hand at archery during his Peru tour.
Brodie Grundy tries his hand at archery during his Peru tour.
And pictured celebrating a goal this year for the Magpies.
And pictured celebrating a goal this year for the Magpies.