Gawn wants to be No.1 ruckman

RUCKMAN Max Gawn believes the No.1 ruck position is up for grabs between him, veteran Mark Jamar and 24-year-old Jake Spencer in 2014.

Gawn, who played 13 matches in 2013, after missing the entire 2012 season with a knee injury, said he and Spencer were “pretty even” at the moment, although Jamar was still the one to catch.

“Russian (Jamar) is an All-Australian ruckman and if he gets back to full fitness, me and Pencil are going to have to try and steal it off him. There are only three of us,” he told melbournefc.com.au.

“Fitzy (Jack Fitzpatrick) can come in [and ruck] every now and then. We’re all different ages as well. Me and Jake get along quite well and we train pretty hard against each other and we assess ourselves.

“We had the whole year really, with Russian being injured, to really test ourselves at training and it was good. Jake’s very, very strong, so he’s very hard to ruck against, but I thought I held my own against him towards the end of the year.”

Gawn said the Melbourne ruckmen all had their own strengths as they were “completely different players”.

“Mark’s really good at his craft and is one of the best in the AFL, in terms of his ruck work. He’s an All-Australian, but he had a bit of a tough year with his foot [injury]. I’m sure he’ll be back next year, putting pressure on me and Pencil (Spencer) as well,” he said.

“Pencil is big and strong, and everything you love in a ruckman.

“I’ve got to find a little bit more of the ball, but I’ve got to work on my ruck work the most. I played my best footy at Casey when I was by myself in the ruck, when Jake wasn’t playing or Mark.”

Gawn said internal competition for the No.1 ruck position was strong and he was determined to remain in the round one team in 2014, after playing in the final round this year.

“I’m a pretty impatient person and I don’t like waiting for too many things, so I’m trying my hardest to stay in [the team],” he said.

“I played the last round of the year and even though I didn’t play that well, I still was in that side and I don’t like getting dropped, even if I’m young or getting rested. I want to try and play every single game for the Dees.”

Gawn said he was happy with his output in 2013, given he had missed the entire 2012 with a knee injury.

“If someone told me I was going to play every single game this year, it would’ve been pretty good. [I played] every game this year at Melbourne and Casey. [I played] eight at Casey and 13 at Melbourne, so that’s a positive,” he said.

“I’ve always had confidence in my body, even though I’ve had those knee relapses. Every other part of my body, I’ve had confidence in. To be able to get up for round one in the VFL was a positive.

“I played some really good footy in the VFL early on, so I was selected in the AFL side. We had a couple of bad games for the Dees and some people had to get the door out of the side after the Fremantle game … then Jake [Spencer] got reported, so it gave me another window there, so I had five weeks as a ruckman, which I really enjoyed.”

Gawn said he now had “complete confidence” in his knees, but he still needed to manage them.

“I’ve always got confidence in myself and you’ve got to have a full pre-season to get through a full year and I did all up to maybe one day of the pre-season this year,” he said.

“There’s always going to be a question mark, if I was going to get through or not, but my body pulled up sore early on, but week after week, it kept getting better.

“I’m feeling the best I’ve felt now it’s the end of the year.”