MAX Gawn has signed an extended contract and will remain with Melbourne until at least the end of the 2021 season.
The 25-year-old was already locked in for the 2018 season, but the club and Gawn have agreed to another three years on top of that, meaning he will remain with the red and blue for at least four more seasons.
General manager of football operations Josh Mahoney said the club was delighted to secure Gawn.
“Both Max and the club were keen to get this contract signed prior to the start of next season and we’re very pleased to get this done in quick fashion,” he told melbournefc.com.au.
“Max is a very important player and person around the club and we’re delighted that he’s extended his contract for a further three years.
“We look forward to him having an injury free season next year and returning to playing the footy that he has shown over a period of time.”
Gawn said he was rapt to remain at Melbourne into the next decade.
“I can’t imagine enjoying myself having success at another club. I love this club, and for the first time in a long time, we are heading in the right direction and I want to be a part of that and bring our supporters the success they are craving," he told melbournefc.com.au.
"I will be a Melbourne player for life, which means a lot to me, so there was no point dancing around and trying to string out my contract negotiations. I didn’t want a media circus going into my final year. I wanted to put that to bed and show my commitment to the Dees, which is why I signed on at this time.
"I feel a bit like a supporter of the club as well, particularly when I was injured. I sat there in the stands and I kind of feel like I rode the ups and downs with our supporters. Having had that experience, it’s made me want to work even harder to bring them success, because I know how much they love the club and how much it would mean for them.
I know it’s only October, and we’ve got a bloody long pre-season ahead, but a potential starting midfield at the MCG in round one of [Clayton] Oliver, [Jack] Viney and [Christian] Petracca has got me excited already and I can’t wait to get started.”
Gawn, who was named in the 2016 All-Australian team and finished third in Melbourne’s best and fairest, is regarded as one of the best ruckmen in the game.
Originally from Ormond/Sandringham Dragons, Gawn was drafted at No.34 in the 2009 NAB AFL Draft.
He made his AFL debut against Essendon at the MCG in round 11, 2011 and played four games that year.
After missing the 2012 season with a knee injury, Gawn played 22 of 44 matches in 2013-14, as he again battled injuries and form.
He started the 2015 season in the VFL, but when he was recalled in round, 2015, he took his game to another level, finishing the second half of the season in fine form.
This carried into 2016, when he produced one of the best AFL seasons by a ruckman in recent years.
Although this year was interrupted by injury – he missed 10 weeks with a hamstring injury – Gawn bounced back to play some strong games in the latter part of the season.
But with a full pre-season under his belt and an injury-free run in 2018, Gawn looms as one of the most influential big men in the game.
He remains an integral part of Melbourne’s future.