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‘Ruck nerd’ Gawn ready for next challenge

Matt Burgan  March 9, 2018 10:48 AM

I’ve been focusing on Geelong since the fixture came out, so I’ve got a rough idea of what they’re going to be doing, because I’ve been watching them a fair bit and I’m looking forward to it

SELF confessed ‘ruck nerd’ Max Gawn says he’s ready to tackle another different type of ruckman when he takes on Geelong big man Zac Smith in the opening round of the home and away season.

Speaking after Melbourne defeated St Kilda by 26 points at Casey Fields on Thursday night, to make it two-from-two in the JLT Community Series pre-season campaign, Gawn said he admired and loved studying opposition ruckmen, and was ready for his next challenge.

“I could talk about ruckmen all day. The fact that I had two completely different ones in two weeks has been [a challenge]. ‘Goldy’ (Todd Goldstein) is a great mover and is very, very strong and quite tall,” he told melbournefc.com.au.

“[Tom] Hickey is a very slippery player. You think you can see him and then he pops up the other side and he’s a great jumper, and he’s very fit. So, they’re two different types of ruckmen and then I’ve got Zac Smith, who is a third different type of ruckman, coming up in round one.

“I love the art of ruckwork and I love what everyone brings, and I’ve had two guys who have brought completely different stuff.”

Gawn, who lost eight kilos during the off-season, said his build-up towards the 2018 season had gone to plan.

“I could’ve had a little run in AFLX, just to see what it’s like, but two JLTs is just the right amount for me. We’ve had a couple of intra-clubs, where we’ve played a couple of quarters and gone full-on at it at training,” he said.

“We’ve got another 16 days before round one, so it’s not really like two JLT games – it’s about three or four little games all up, but I felt good out there against the Saints.

“Tommy ‘Hicks’ has pushed me about four or five times in our history, so it was good to get out there and show that I could go at this weight and work out how fit I am … so it was good to get out there.”

In assessing the win over the Saints, Gawn said his team played “pretty good Melbourne football” in the first half, before it slipped in the third term.

“We probably just went away from how we played in the third. We know the Saints brings a lot of pressure. Every time we play them – they’re incredibly pressured games,” he said.

“You always end up quite bruised afterwards. They’ve got a couple of bulls in the midfield, so we know that’s going to come and we just fell away from what we brought in the first half. We tidied a little bit up in the fourth, but it’s pretty hard to stop momentum in footy.”

“I’m not going to take anything away from the first quarter, but there was a little bit of wind. There was a tiny little wind out there and I connected to a torp in the end – so that’s two from two, but I’m not counting.

“We’ve been working on our starts, and it’s impressive to get out there and do that – and that’s two weeks in a row, because we did that against North Melbourne as well.”

Although Gawn’s focus has been on round one, ever since it was announced, there is just one thing that will take his mind away from the job in the lead-up to the season proper.

“I’ll watch the fifth ODI (One Day International), New Zealand and England. It’s two-all and [New Zealand batsman] Ross Taylor’s 180 was pretty impressive the other day, and then I’ll focus on Geelong,” he said.

“I’ve been focusing on Geelong since the fixture came out, so I’ve got a rough idea of what they’re going to be doing, because I’ve been watching them a fair bit and I’m looking forward to it.”