MELBOURNE ruckman Max Gawn has committed to the club on a new three-year deal, signing until the end of 2018.
One of the competition’s form ruckmen, Gawn has had a breakout 2015 season, playing 10 consecutive matches for the first time in his career and establishing himself as the club’s first-choice ruck.
The 23-year-old said it was exciting to lock in his future at Melbourne.
“It was good to put pen to paper, [the negotiations] hadn’t been going on for too long, which is good,” he told melbournefc.com.au.
“It’s only been the last couple of weeks that negotiations have started heating up, so it’s good to finally sign the paper.”
Gawn took until round 10 to force his way into Melbourne’s team in 2015 but since his return to the side, has embarked on an outstanding run of form.
After his 10 games, Gawn is ranked second in the league for contested marks per game and fourth for hitouts per game.
After an injury-interrupted start to his career, the ruckman said he was enjoying the chance to build some good form.
“It’s probably well publicised that in my six years at the club I’ve had two knee recos, a few hamstring [injuries] and stuff like that,” Gawn said.
“[I’ve] also had some bad form, especially at the start of this season, I had some pretty bad form.
“But it’s all started to come together and I’m starting to play some good footy.”
Manager of football operations Josh Mahoney said Gawn’s development over the past two years had been exciting.
“Max has had an injury-interrupted start to his career with a number of knee reconstructions,” Mahoney told melbournefc.com.au.
“He’s been able to put together a number of games for the last two seasons and we’ve seen him continue to develop, particularly in the second half of this year.
“He’s shown the potential that we always thought he had and we’re very happy to have secured a young ruckman for the next three years.”
Gawn’s re-signing follows the recent contract extensions of first year players Angus Brayshaw and Christian Petracca.
Having arrived at the club through the 2009 AFL National Draft, Gawn said he was excited by the club’s future.
“I’ve obviously been here for six seasons now but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
“A lot of the guys are in the same boat – we’ve been through a lot together and we don’t want to miss out on hopefully what’s at the other end.
“We’ve got some good young players coming through – we’ve seen Angus Brayshaw this year and James Harmes and Alex Neal-Bullen and players like that – who are playing good footy and there’s Christian Petracca still to come, which is exciting.”
Mahoney said Gawn’s re-signing was another important step in developing the club’s group of talented young players.
“It’s important that we continue to secure our young talent,” Mahoney said.
“This [signing] follows on from earlier in the year, when we extended the contracts of both Angus Brayshaw and Christian Petracca.
“We’ll continue to look to extend the contracts of our talented players and try to keep them developing together.
“This has been consistent with our list management strategy over the past two seasons, where we have looked to secure our young talent while also adding some experienced players from other clubs around them.”
With four games left in Melbourne’s 2015 season, Gawn said he was keen to finish the year on a high note.
“I’m definitely enjoying my footy a little bit more than what I was at the start of the year,” he said.
“But there are still four games to go… so I wouldn’t mind winning a couple [more] with four weeks to go.”