MELBOURNE hasn't committed to again deploying James Harmes in a shutdown role against Brisbane's highly-talented midfield this week, despite the club's success in tagging Western Bulldogs star Tom Liberatore last Friday night.
Harmes played an important blanketing role on Liberatore, the League's leading clearance player, keeping the premiership onballer to just 16 touches in the side's emphatic 28-point victory in the top-of-the-ladder contest at Marvel Stadium last week.
The Demons now come up against the in-form Lions on Friday night, a side that possesses a midfield featuring returning Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale as well as Hugh McCluggage, Jarryd Lyons and Dayne Zorko.
However, Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin says his own talented midfield group – led by Harmes, alongside star duo Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca – will all have roles to play in negating Brisbane's engine room.
"(Harmes) was sensational last week, but we're not a team that tags every week," Goodwin said.
"We play a system. We understand defensively how we want to play, so we'll assess what that looks like this week. We've done it a couple of times this year and last week we did it with success.
"But we'll go into this game knowing that we've got a number of players to shut down, so we'll work out what's best for our team."
Melbourne will take a full squad of 26 players to New South Wales on Thursday afternoon ahead of the highly-anticipated contest, with the game moved from Alice Springs to Giants Stadium in the wake of Victoria's recent COVID-19 outbreak.
However, star midfielder Jack Viney will remain sidelined until after the club's round 14 bye due to a lingering toe injury, while important wingman Ed Langdon will miss this week after entering the AFL's 12-day concussion protocols.
Despite flagging a potential move to a wing for Tom McDonald in pre-season, his form as a key forward will see him stay in attack as Oskar Baker, Tom Sparrow and Kade Chandler vie to become Langdon's replacement.
"We'll keep him forward," Goodwin said.
"He's been in incredible form for us as a key forward and has been a really pivotal player for us. We certainly won't tinker with that at this stage of the season, so we'll keep him in the position that he's in."
Melbourne recruited versatile 195cm Werribee utility Kye Declase and 191cm Murray Bushrangers defender Daniel Turner during Wednesday night's NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft, with Goodwin flagging a potential senior role for the former later this season.
Declase, who turns 25 later this year, has been in superb form for Werribee in the VFL this season and trained with the Demons over the summer in the hopes of winning a rookie spot as a pre-season supplemental selection period pick.
"There's no doubt Kye has played for Werribee and is ready to play AFL footy if his form warrants it," Goodwin said.
"(Melbourne head of development) Mark Williams has obviously coached Kye (at Werribee) and has a high regard for his ability to play certain positions, but also his ability to develop and I think that's what we wanted to get.
"He's got the habits that would drive an AFL career and, at 24 years of age, he's still got a lot of learning and growth in him. 'Choco' was aware of that and thinks he's got some really good AFL qualities.
"Our recruiters continued to do the work over the last 12 weeks around Kye and they've been incredibly impressed with what he's been able to produce with Werribee."