PAUL Roos' whirlwind stint as Melbourne coach fixed so many aspects of the Demons, including a then-battling but now three-time All-Australian ruckman.
In an interview with AFL.com.au, Max Gawn has revealed an old-school, tough love relationship with Roos (Demons coach 2014-16) helped him turn around a career which had been more VFL than AFL.
"Roosy and I had a great relationship, but unfortunately it was (based on) poor AFL form, until my last year," Gawn said.
"The great relationship was more socially until I started pulling my finger out. I still remember some of the conversations I had with Roosy.
"I got subbed out up in Darwin against Fremantle (round 16, 2014). I played a really bad game, but Garrick Ibbotson out-bodied me in a marking contest. I got subbed out, literally, on that contest. Nothing against Garrick Ibbotson, but I was a little bit bigger and stronger and probably should have held my own.
"After the game, Paul gave direct feedback on that contest. He said you do this all day in the VFL and then you come up here and do absolutely nothing.
"I went down to VFL the next week. It had been 30 degrees in Darwin, then I went down to Bendigo, I think it was four degrees that day. I had 90 hitouts against the Bendigo ruckman, who was about 190cm. Roosy got asked about it, and he said, 'I could have got 90 hitouts against the Bendigo ruckman'.
"I just realised where I was at, right there, I realised I might need to start doing more than winning the hitouts."
Gawn, appointed Melbourne captain for 2020, has played regular senior football since 2015. He was named in the 2016, 2018 and 2019 All-Australian teams.
Gawn said Roos knew his skin was thick enough to cop brutal feedback.
"After the Geelong game in 2015, I'd played one of my best games to that point, and it was my first post-game interview, with David King, straight after the siren," Gawn said.
"I said that I felt invincible at times on the ground. I didn’t think anything of it. The next day my name tag had been changed to Mr Invincible in Roosy's office. He'd picked up on it pretty quickly.
"I just like saying things that pop in my head and sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad."
>> Check out highlights from Max Gawn's breakout game against Geelong in 2015 in the player below