Sam Draper and Max Gawn during Essendon's match against Melbourne in R3, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

ESSENDON can't simply assume Max Gawn's absence will turn the crucial ruck battle its way against Melbourne, says coach Brad Scott, as he weighs up whether to field two rucks.

The Demons expect Gawn to miss two or three matches with a chipped fibula, ahead of facing the Bombers on Friday night.

It offers Essendon ruckman Sam Draper, who Scott said was getting back to his best, a golden chance to assert himself on the clash at the MCG.

Scott wouldn't confirm a recall for veteran Todd Goldstein, who was managed against Collingwood, to assist Draper - a call he admitted would have been more likely if Gawn had been playing.


"Whether it's (Tom) Fullarton or whether it's someone else comes in the ruck from Melbourne, they'll be capable players," Scott said. 

"So I think we'd be taking some liberties if we thought we're just going to be given an opportunity in the ruck to exploit Melbourne's perceived weakness there.

"Because it's only perceived and it's only a weakness if we take advantage of it. 

"Playing two rucks doesn't guarantee us that but it's a potential opportunity.

"... I'm just really conscious that if you start thinking that because a really good opposition player's out, that automatically means that you get to dominate that part of the game - that's a huge mistake in elite sport."

Sam Draper chats to Brad Scott after the R9 match between Essendon and GWS at Marvel Stadium on May 11, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Demons coach Simon Goodwin has former Brisbane Lions ruck-forward Fullarton and possible debutant Will Verrall in the mix.

Jacob van Rooyen presents another option, having taken over when Gawn was hurt against West Coast, as fellow tall forwards Ben Brown (knee) and Harrison Petty (hamstring) push to return from injuries.

Darragh Joyce and Jacob van Rooyen contest the ruck during the match between Brisbane and Melbourne at the Gabba in round 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"He's a tough man to replace," Goodwin said of Gawn on Wednesday.

"But it's like anything that we've been able to deal with in recent times, whether it be Angus Brayshaw (retired) or Christian Petracca (injured), and you always look at your opportunities in this space.

"For us, with Max being out, it gives us an opportunity to look at not only some personnel that's different but also some method that sits within that role for us."