Melbourne will use skipper Max Gawn more as a forward than a ruck, according to Dermott Brereton, after the arrival of ex-Pie Brodie Grundy.
With the Demons now in position of the deadliest ruck combination, arguably since West Coast used Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui together in the early 2010s, the question of who plays where is a massive talking point.
Brereton believes Melbourne want to use Gawn more as a forward, given the way he was used in 2022.
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“Max has dropped in clearance attendances this year – significantly,” he said on Trading Day.
“They’ve actually decided to take the heat out of him as well.
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“When you go in less (to centre bounce), you’re more explosive when you are on the ball.
“I tend to think Max is probably more your stay at full forward and relieve (Grundy in the ruck). There’s so many times late in this season where Max started out of the centre square and it’s unheard of – if you’ve got the number one ruckman in the competition, you start him on the ball.
“But they started him out of the goal square so that’s something I think we’ll see more of (in 2023).
“If you had of said to be mid-year, Grundy will be swapped for pick 27, I’d have said you’re off your rocker.”
Grundy got to Melbourne for pick 27, and it’s believed Collingwood will cough up around $300,000 of his salary for the next five years.
Fox Footy’s Nick Dal Santo said he was “intrigued” to see how Gawn and Grundy worked together.
“You tell me another combination where you’ve had the two best ruckmen in the comp and they’ve got along really well – one’s happy to play forward,” he said on Trading Day.
“You’ve literally got the best two rucks in the comp, how do you balance that midfield time? One clearly has to rest forward – what are they like as a genuine forward?
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“We’ve seen Max, particularly at times, go forward of the football and be a star. If that’s your primary (role), you have to spend more time there than you have traditionally, that changes your whole dynamic.
“I wonder whether you change your game style – if you’ve got a guy that height (Gawn and Grundy) in your forward line, I wonder whether you change your ball movement and forward entries as a result.”
Statistics show Grundy has been rated one of the competition’s best ruckmen in recent seasons – ranked 5th in 2017, 1st in 2018, 2nd in 2019, 8th in 2020 and 2nd in 2021 before his 2022 campaign was derailed by injury.