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Ruckman itching for season to start

Matt Burgan  February 23, 2016 10:46 AM

AFL 2016 Portraits - Melbourne

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 4: Max Gawn poses for a photograph during the Melbourne Demons official team photo day at the MCG in Melbourne on February 4, 2016. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

Everyone says that when you have a good pre-season, you tend to have a good season, so hopefully I might be able to put that to the test

RUCKMAN Max Gawn says his “first” pre-season in seven years had been positive, given he’s battled a considerable amount of injuries throughout his career.

Gawn, who took his game to another level in the second half of 2015, looks set to improve again this year, given he’s set to assume the No.1 ruck mantle from the start of the season. 

“Everyone says that when you have a good pre-season, you tend to have a good season, so hopefully I might be able to put that to the test,” he said.

“Hopefully I play [from] round one this season … and see where that takes me.”

Gawn said he took plenty of confidence from last season’s breakout game – and memorable victory – against Geelong at the Cattery in round 12, when he landed three Brownlow votes for his sterling performance.

“It was the same coming from TAC Cup to VFL. It took me a while to play a good game in the VFL and when you do, you start playing well in the VFL,” he said.

“It was just that confidence level, so hopefully I can take that into this year.”

Gawn praised Chris Dawes and Sam Frost as back-up ruckmen, but said he was “a big advocate” of playing two ruckmen this year.

“Hopefully they play me and ‘Pence’ (Jake Spencer) every now and then as well,” he said.

The 208cm tall said he now saw himself as a leader at the club.

“Last year it didn’t sit well with me and now it has,” he said.

“I’ve been [training] the whole pre-season and some of the leaders haven’t. [Heritier] Lumumba hasn’t and Jonesy (Nathan Jones) hasn’t, so it’s been forced upon me a little bit and I’ve really liked being a leader in the pre-season. Hopefully I can do it this year.

“We (the players) all feel we’ve got the ownership of the club now and it’s been Roosy (Paul Roos) and Goody’s (Simon Goodwin) approach this year, by giving it to the players and we take the club forward.”

Looking ahead to this Saturday’s clash against Port Adelaide at Elizabeth, Gawn said Melbourne was determined to make the most of every opportunity.

“As the same for the majority of the clubs, we’ve had a good pre-season and we’re looking forward to the three NAB Challenge games coming up,” he said.

“We’ve got to travel first to Elizabeth to play Port and we’re going to try and win all three.”

Gawn said he wasn’t sure if skipper Nathan Jones or 2015 best and fairest winner Bernie Vince would play in Melbourne’s NAB Challenge opener.

But he tipped Angus Brayshaw, Clayton Oliver and James Harmes as youngsters to watch out for in 2016. 

As for whether he’ll keep the beard for the season?

Gawn said he had “three weeks” to decide whether he will shave his beard or keep it for round one.