BRAYDON Preuss may have raised a few eyebrows when he made the switch to Melbourne, but the ruckman is thriving at the Demons in 2019.
Preuss, who joined the red and blue in November, is soaking up the experience of playing with one of the club’s star players in Max Gawn – an opportunity he’s taking with both hands.
“It was a pretty easy decision,” Preuss said.
“I obviously copped a fair bit of smack for it because ‘Gawny’ (Max Gawn) plays here – everyone asked why I was going there, but I think I’m getting better as a player and a person.
“If you’re training with the best, you’re obviously going to get a bit of improvement yourself.”
Having spent the pre-season training together, the duo has played two home-and-away matches – both lined up in rounds four and five – with Gawn enjoying the company.
“It’s been a while – Jake Spencer was my last sort of ruck combo,” he said.
“I had a year without anyone there and it’s handy to have someone.
“I think you can play 18 rucks, so two shouldn’t be that hard.”
Preuss’ most-recent feature was last weekend against Carlton, where he took on Blues ruck Matthew Kreuzer.
A late inclusion for his sidekick Gawn (ankle), the 206cm tall finished with 44 hit outs, 14 disposals and five marks.
And he enjoyed his challenge back at AFL level.
“Kreuzer moves very well and is obviously very experienced – he plays to his strengths,” Preuss said.
“I think once I just settled in and played my own game, I think I competed pretty well.”
His efforts also impressed co-captain Jack Viney.
“I thought he was terrific,” Viney said.
“He was very strong in terms of his centre bounce and around-the-ground craft, but then also being able to get to some contested marks and be a big presence down the line as well, which is exactly what we need from our big fellas.
“I thought he played that role terrifically.”
Preuss will be hoping playing two rucks is on the agenda this week, with Gawn looking to make his return this Sunday against the Western Bulldogs.
While all signs are positive with his ankle at this stage, there are still a few more boxes to tick before the All-Australian is given the all clear.
“There’s no ‘definites’ in footy – I’ve got to make sure my ankle is good,” Gawn said.
“(I’ve got a get through) a big training session on Thursday, recover Friday and another training session on Saturday – there are still a lot of hurdles.
“I thought I was pretty good to play on the Sunday just gone, so hopefully it’ll be alright.”
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