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Step aside, Goldy, fit Max ready to claim No.1 ruckman title

Ben Guthrie  February 23, 2016 10:02 AM

Libba's delay, Danger time, Gawn's beard Matt Thompson and Nat Edwards with your Tuesday Footy Feed

MAX GAWN is hoping to emulate All Australian ruckman Todd Goldstein and become the competition's No.1 ruckman in 2016.

The Melbourne big man said Goldstein, who became the competition's pre-eminent ruckman in 2015, had set the benchmark for how to play the position.

The 90-rotations limit will be installed for the season proper this year and it is expected that players will spend more time on the field.

"I can see the ruckmen having more time on the ground with that rotation cap which doesn't bother me too much," Gawn said on Tuesday morning.

"I like to stay on the ground and not come to the bench but no one really knows until that happens in the first few weeks (of the season).

"The ruck role will increase to a 90 per cent ruck role, similar to Goldstein. He's set the standard in how much time ruckman need to be on the park for and hopefully I can cover the ground more than what I did last year."

The players from your club who are burning up the track

Gawn is certainly fitter, achieving the first full pre-season of his seven-year career.

He is covering the ground better than ever and was clearly one of best players in the club's intraclub hit-out last Friday.

The Demons open their NAB Challenge campaign against Port Adelaide at Playford Alive Oval in Adelaide on Saturday and the expectation is that they will field a strong side.

However, Melbourne is unlikely to take a risk with Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince.

The pair missed last week's scratch match with Jones having a delayed pre-season due to off-season neck surgery and Vince struggling with hamstring tendinitis.

Jones trained with the rehab group at Gosch's Paddock on Tuesday and Vince has been in and out of training for the past fortnight. 

With the experienced duo almost certainly sitting on the sidelines, Gawn said he would need to take another step up from a leadership point of view.

Melbourne officials say the 24-year-old has made great strides in this area and view him as a potential captain of the club down the track.

"Last year it (leadership) didn't sit well with me, but this year it has. I've been around for the whole pre-season and some of the main leaders haven't. 

"It's been forced upon me a little but I've really liked being a leader this pre-season and hopefully I can do it this year."

Melbourne is expected to officially name its leadership group, which will again be skippered by Nathan Jones, after the club's second NAB Challenge match.

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