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I want to be among best ruckmen: Gawn

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 19 Stefan Martin of the Lions and Max Gawn of the Demons compete in a ruck contest during the 2015 AFL round 16 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on July 19, 2015. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 19 Stefan Martin of the Lions and Max Gawn of the Demons compete in a ruck contest during the 2015 AFL round 16 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on July 19, 2015. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Max Gawn says he wants to be one of the AFL’s best ruckmen
Max Gawn

MAX Gawn says he wants to become one of the game’s leading ruckmen in the near future.

Gawn, who played 13 AFL games for Melbourne in 2015, had a strong back half of the season, including three Brownlow votes for his performance in Melbourne’s win over Geelong in round 12.

Speaking to Dee TV, Gawn said he had a good dynamic with his fellow ruckmen, Jake Spencer and delisted veteran Mark Jamar, this season.

“We’ve got good relationships; we train together and we do a lot of stuff together,” he said.

“Luckily enough, I was able to keep my form going [this season] but even Jake’s form in a couple of games and Russian’s form early in round one, we’d all played some good games at the top level and we’d shown that we could all do it.

“We’ve got a pretty strong ruck department – I reckon we could rival the majority of the other ruck departments [in the competition].”

Casting his eye across the competition, Gawn said there are four ruckmen he believes are the benchmark.

“Aaron Sandilands is there just because of his pure ability to win ruck hit outs and he’s super strong. I was amazed at how much bigger he looked than me out on the ground in round 22,” he said.

“Todd Goldstein’s there for playing like an extra midfielder and his ruck craft is super as well.

“Nic Naitanui is there because of his super ability and he’s a freak and he’s very hard to play on.

“Stefan Martin is the last one. He used to be a Dee and he’s probably there as well just for his pure ball-winning ability and being able to follow up.”

Gawn said it is a group of players he would one day like to join.

“I’d like to get inside that top four. I know I’ve got a lot to improve on but at least I’ve made a couple of good stepping-stones this season,” he said.

Despite the AFL’s decision to remove the sub rule and reduce the interchange cap in 2016, Gawn said he did not expect many changes to Melbourne’s ruck set-up next year.

“I don’t think it’s [a second ruckman] going to be a certain position anymore so it’s not going to be locked in that the fourth bench player is going to be the second ruck,” he said.

“I think coming into games like Fremantle for example [who] played two rucks pretty much every time, we might have played two rucks that game.

“The ruck man is going to be expected to do a lot game time because of the interchange rule as well, so I reckon it might be similar to this year: maybe three or four games going with two rucks but other games go with one.”

Gawn said that while Melbourne has the ability to play multiple ruck options, he also enjoys the “challenge” of being the sole ruck.

“Out of the 13 games [I played], three of them I played with Pencil [Spencer] and they were three pretty good games for me: the Fremantle game [in Round 22], the Geelong game earlier on in the year and the West Coast game as well,” he said.

“I played pretty well in those games, so I enjoyed having the two rucks but I also had some good games as the one ruck and I love being the one ruck versus two.”