Goodwin weighs up ruck replacement for ‘ambitious’ Gawn

Shayne Hope |

Simon Goodwin has declared Max Gawn’s bid to return early from a chipped fibula “ambitious” as Melbourne weigh up short-term replacement options for their sidelined captain.

Demons coach Goodwin has former Brisbane Lions ruck-forward Tom Fullarton and possible debutant Will Verrall in the selection mix for the important clash with Essendon on Saturday night.

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

“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.

“We’ll look at all that. We’re still working through some of that at this stage of the week and what that might look like.”

Gawn’s replacement faces a tough assignment against Essendon ruckman Sam Draper, who has impressed in three games on return from injury.

Sam Draper and Darcy Cameron.
Ruckman Sam Draper was influential in the Bombers’ last-out win over defending premiers Collingwood. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

“Every side seems to have a really strong ruckman these days, and Sam is that for Essendon,” Goodwin said.

“We’ll certainly make some decisions around what it looks like around the ball, but also in general play as well and how we might be able to get an advantage in certain areas.”

Melbourne expect Gawn to miss two or three matches, ahead of encounters with Essendon, Fremantle and GWS – all current top-eight sides.

The 32-year-old, who was in a moon boot and moving around on a scooter at the Demons’ Casey Fields headquarters on Wednesday, wants to make a speedy recovery in time to face the Dockers on July 21.

“It’s ambitious,” Goodwin said.

“We’re certainly of the mindset that it’s probably going to be more like two or three, but Max is Max.

“He is the ultimate professional and his mindset is always around, ‘How can I do my rehab best and get myself back the quickest and in the best shape?’

“That mindset puts him in a great position to be able to do that.”

Goodwin said sidelined star Petracca has recovered well from surgery on Sunday to remove his appendix.

Petracca’s latest setback is unrelated to the lacerated spleen, punctured lung and four broken ribs he suffered in a collision with Collingwood’s Darcy Moore last month, which had already ended his 2024 campaign early.

In another blow to the Demons, premiership player Charlie Spargo has also been ruled out for the rest of the season with an achilles issue.

The 24-year-old has been sidelined since the opening round of the year.

“It’s shattering for us and for Charlie,” Goodwin said.

“He’s really struggled with his achilles this year and we’ve tried multiple things to get it right, and it’s come to a point where surgery is the best option left for us.”