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Max factors himself into elite ruck calculations

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 19 Stefan Martin of the Lions and Max Gawn of the Demons compete in a ruck contest during the 2015 AFL round 16 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on July 19, 2015. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Max Gawn (right) says he hopes to join former teammate Stefan Martin as an elite ruckman in 2016
I’d like to get inside that top four
Max Gawn aims to join the elite ruckmen

MELBOURNE’S Max Gawn says he is ready to build on his breakout season to become one of the AFL’s best ruckmen.

The 208cm, 111kg man mountain was one of Melbourne's genuine success stories in 2015, despite after taking until round 10 to break into the senior team. 

The 23-year-old eventually played 13 senior matches in 2015, averaging 37 hit-outs, 14 disposals and almost five marks per game.

His 44 hit-out, 19-possession, eight-mark game against Geelong in round 12 earned him three Brownlow Medal votes, showcasing his powerful rucking and marking ability.

It was a performance that Gawn said he needed to replicate consistently to take the next step in his career.

He named four rivals who tower over the rest of the AFL rucking contingent, but said he was desperate to join the elite group next season.

"Aaron Sandilands is there just because of his pure ability to win ruck hit-outs and he’s super strong. I was amazed at how much bigger he looked than me out on the ground in round 22," Gawn told Melbourne's website.

"Todd Goldstein’s there for playing like an extra midfielder and his ruck craft is super as well.

"Nic Naitanui is there because of his super ability, and he’s a freak and he’s very hard to play on.

"Stefan Martin is the last one. He used to be a Dee and he’s probably there as well, just for his pure ball-winning ability and being able to follow up.

"I’d like to get inside that top four. I know I’ve got a lot to improve on but at least I’ve made a couple of good stepping-stones this season."

Gawn has endured two knee reconstructions and again injured his knee in the final game of the 2014 season. Despite missing half of Melbourne’s summer program leading into 2015, he said he was starting to trust his body.

"I was able to get my knee to exactly where I wanted it to be. I’d had a lot of problems and had had eight operations in six seasons, so it’s been through a lot," he said.

"To get through the whole year with no swelling, not even a hiccup with my knee, it’s a credit to the rehab I did do.”

"I really want to attack the off-season and train hard and come back to the pre-season and be ready."