AFL 2018: Max Gawn’s career-best game comes at the right time as Melbourne qualify for finals

WHEN Melbourne needed a hero, ruckman Max Gawn emerged.

And while Gawn has had some big games in his 95-game career, including having a career-high 66 hit-outs twice this season — nothing compares to his performance against West Coast on Sunday.

According to official AFL Player Ratings, run by Champion Data, Gawn had a career-best game when the Demons needed it the most against the Eagles.

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The Eagles rucks combined for 37 hit-outs, but Gawn was a machine in the middle of the ground with 41 hit-outs and 20 disposals.

The 208cm tall says it was an amazing feeling after the game, with the Demons qualifying for finals for the first time since 2006 — locking in a spot in the top eight after a 17-point win over West Coast.

“It was a pretty surreal feeling,” Gawn told RSN Breakfast Club.

“I suppose any game you win interstate when the final siren goes is just a really good feeling. To have that cherry on top with a finals berth I was pretty excited to be honest when the final siren went.

“Thankfully for the guys in Western Australia we had about seven hours to think about it because the plane was delayed four hours, so we really sat in the change rooms and enjoyed that one.”

Gawn is ranked No. 1 in the competition for hit-outs — on track to pass 1000 for the season, averaging 45.9 hit-outs — having played every game for the Demons in 2018.

With temperatures at Optus Stadium hovering around 25 degrees, Gawn says it was draining rucking around the ground, but the 26-year-old was able to hold out until the final siren.

“It was so (warm), we sort of went to the game in Alice Springs so we were relatively use to it,” he said.

“So the heat really didn’t bother me too much, but I certainly did get tired a little bit towards the end when they bought Vardy back relatively fresh, but I was able to hold on for the final siren which was good.”

Gawn says the feeling between the entire club was amazing in the rooms after the game.

“It was just the whole club sort of feel that were in the rooms,” he said.

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“There’s some guys that have been there for the whole 12 years, there’s some guys that have been there for longer and for shorter.

“Just to get around every single person from the property steward to the masseuse to all the players and coaches. Really just sit there and thanks to Virgin we sat there for a while — but we had time to soak it in. I put on some beats on my speaker and it was just a really good feeling.”

With Gawn drafted to the Demons with Pick No. 34 in the 2009, the 2018 finals campaign will be his first.

Max Gawn was the dominant ruckman at Optus Stadium. Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images
Max Gawn was the dominant ruckman at Optus Stadium. Photo: Paul Kane/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“You sit there early on and think surely it will come one day, you can’t go through a whole career without playing finals,” he said.

“But then I was on the plane coming home with Steve Smith, former Melbourne player and he played in the 80s — 250 odd games and didn’t play one final, so it definitely can happen.

“It was a pretty proud moment after the final siren, but we definitely don’t want to be someone that is there for the finals and nobody knows about. We’re pretty keen to go show our brand against GWS this week.”

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