MAX GAWN has tipped draftee Luke Jackson to burst onto the AFL scene as early as round one, having declared the No.3 pick as "already better than me".
The Melbourne captain said Jackson, 18, had impressed in four different roles across the pre-season, showcasing his versatility as a ruckman, a forward, a midfielder and a wingman.
No.3 draft pick Luke Jackson soars across the pack to mark - much to his teammates’ delight pic.twitter.com/UoUO5UjVEG— Marc McGowan (@ByMarcMcGowan) December 9, 2019
Gawn expected the athletic tall to settle into a forward line role in his first year but was bullish about his talent as an important utility across the ground.
"He's already better than me, he's a good player," Gawn told AFL.com.au this week.
"It's good to see because we haven't had a really good high draft pick tall; Sam Weideman was relatively high [pick No.9 in 2015] but top three … they're just so much more developed than a pick 50 tall.
"Round one is a genuine chance. He could be a forward, he could be helping me out in the ruck … he could be in any of four spots.
"I'd say he'll be a forward to start, without talking to 'Goody' [Simon Goodwin].
"I'm pushing for him not to be a ruckman because I'm trying to get a couple more years at the end of my career."
A round one debut for Jackson could spell trouble for Weideman, who needs to step up this season after he struggled last year on the back of his impressive 2018 finals campaign.
Weideman has predominantly played ruck this pre-season because of the knee injuries sustained by Gawn and Braydon Preuss and the managed load of Jackson.
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With Tom McDonald also in the forward line, the pairing of Weideman and Jackson could cause the Demons' attack to be too tall.
While Gawn is keen on an early look at Jackson in a match for premiership points, he has backed Weideman to carry on from the positive mindset he's showed across the summer.
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"We do have two talls there in Tom and Sam so I don't know how it's going to work but I'd like [Jackson] to play [in round one]," Gawn said.
"Sam had some really good finals football in 2018, which we all saw, and then he was a bit down in confidence and he looks to me like a pretty big confidence player.
"I think we're a really good team if we have a really good, well-playing, confident and happy Sam Weideman so I'd love him to be playing some good footy and all signs are saying he is."
Meanwhile, Gawn admitted to being the sole AFL captain who voted for teammate Bayley Fritsch to defy convention as a half-forward flanker and win the Coleman Medal this year.
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But, he said his claim was justified.
"I've been in awe in what I've watched over this pre-season," he said.
"To be fair, I've been in awe of him a bit over the last two or three years. He doesn't need to have a major impact on a game to kick five goals, he can do it from five marks almost.
"He's just that real X-factor player that Melbourne has been crying out for for a long time and in all the match play we've had, he's been the one kicking the goals.
"I thought, hey, if we're going to be a good side, we're going to have someone on top of the goal kicking, so I'm going to try Bayley Fritsch."
Gawn went for his first post-match run on Tuesday morning after playing a half on Friday night against Hawthorn on return from his January knee injury.
"We've got a pretty big session all together on Saturday, apart from the guys who would be playing at Casey, and I don't think there's many," he said.
"I suppose that will be the last little test, but I've played a half of footy and I ended up doing a fair bit of running at half-time and then had a good little session again this morning so I'm fit enough and the knee is good.
"I think that was a relatively good enough test for me so all systems go for round one."