In-form Melbourne big man Max Gawn isn’t taking the Western Bulldogs’ ruck division lightly heading into their clash at the MCG on Saturday.
Gawn, one of the frontrunners for the All-Australian ruckman gong, has been in career-best form in 2018, averaging 47 hitouts and 17 disposals per game, including 19 and 57 respectively when he faced the Bulldogs in Round 11.
Out-of-favour tall Jordan Roughead is the man set for the monster challenge, replacing an injured Tom Boyd in the Dogs’ 22, and Gawn is prepared for a tougher than expected day at the office.
“He’s had some pretty good games against me, especially in 2016 and 2017, he’s a player that I tend to struggle against,” Gawn told SEN Breakfast.
“He competes really hard, he runs around the ground, people forget he played full back for 100 games so he can definitely cover the ground.”
It has been a rollercoaster season for the Dees, winning six games in a row before three straight losses to Collingwood, Port Adelaide and St Kilda put their finals hopes in jeopardy.
According to Gawn, it’s team defence which is to blame for their up and down form.
“At the moment it seems like it’s our defence that lets us down in games,” he said.
“We’ve kicked the most goals this year, and we’re right up there for contested ball, it just seems to be defence that we’re lacking.
“We go into games with the right mindset and the right game plan, but sometimes teams can bring different stuff, and in the second quarter against St Kilda, they brought something different and we couldn’t get that on the go coaching to be able to set up our team defence.
“We bounced back nicely against Freo last week, but we know the Doggies have been back in their 2016 form and we’re pretty excited for it.”
The Demons welcome back veteran Bernie Vince after he was omitted for last week’s victory over Fremantle in Darwin, and Gawn says it was the need for team balance that saw the former Crow dropped.
“One game down in the VFL was enough for Bernard,” he said.
“We knew he’d be back in, we just needed to find a little bit of balance over the last two weeks, and we found it, and Bernie’s back in.”
Listen to Max Gawn’s chat with Jack Heverin, Nick Dal Santo and Danny Frawley on SEN Breakfast in the player below