Melbourne captain Max Gawn ready to take on Fremantle duo after calf scare

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has no plans to bring in an additional ruckman to replace superstar captain Max Gawn until the second half of the season, despite admitting the six-time All-Australian regularly struggles in the game’s “most combative position”.

Goodwin had ruled Gawn out of last week’s clash with St Kilda due to a calf problem before the captain declared himself fit to play and subsequently demolished St Kilda, taking the full AFL Coaches Association score of 10 points after a masterful performance.

This Sunday he will face the Fremantle tag team of former protégé Luke Jackson and Sean Darcy when the Demons face the Dockers in Alice Springs, but Goodwin is not expected to provide Gawn with any specific support in the ruck.

Striker Jacob van Rooyen and Harrison Petty, who missed the win over the Saints due to a foot problem but will make the trip to the Northern Territory, will support Gawn if needed.

Jackson, who played with Gawn in Melbourne’s championship team in 2021, said his former teammate was the “best ruckman ever” and Goodwin said his big man would “rise to the challenge” of taking on the Fremantle pair as the captain craved bigger challenges.

“We would never take a risk with Max. He carries corks almost every week, as well as a lot of backpacks. It’s one of the most competitive spots,” Goodwin said Thursday.

“We are definitely monitoring Max. We know how important he is to our team. We have a few options that we can bring into the team in that area. But at the moment he is fully fit and ready to go and play fantastic football. That is more something that we will look at in hindsight.”

“Max is someone who puts a lot of work into his opponents. He knows what quality he is up against. He obviously knows Luke very well.

“He will rise to the challenge. The more responsibility you give Max, the better he usually becomes.”

Goodwin said Gawn’s calf injury is “getting better every day” but does not affect his ability to impact games, as evidenced by last week’s performance.

“The way he played last week was incredible,” he said.

“He has an enormous presence through his playing style and determines a large part of our game.”

The Demons have played in Alice Springs since 2014 but have won just four of their nine games there, including a loss to GWS last season.

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