Melbourne captain Max Gawn looms as an major upfront answer for the Demons’ depleted forward line in Saturday’s season-opener at the MCG.
Livewire small forward Kysaiah Pickett is also set to take his place against Fremantle after doing “a lot of work” in Adelaide, including training with SANFL Woodville-West Torrens, when he returned there last month following the death of his mother.
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin conceded scoring more was a huge focus for his team in 2021.
It’s a job that has been made harder with emerging forward Sam Weideman and big-name recruit Ben Brown sidelined by injury Melbourne.
Goodwin said star ruckman Gawn, who kicked just one goal in 2020, would be inserted as a forward target more often than in the past.
The emergence of young tall Luke Jackson will allow Gawn to go forward more with midfield bull Christian Petracca also set to spend more time close to goal as the Demons try to find some forward “connection”.
“We’ve looked at our connection, we need to score more, we need to be more aggressive in the way we play and connect forward of centre,” Goodwin said on Wednesday.
“Personnel will be one element, but our method will be as important.
“We’ve got mids that are going to push forward, Gawn, Trac (Petracca), we’ve got Tommy (McDonald), Luke Jackson, Baily Fritsch, we’ve got a number of options we will use.”
Hard work pays off. 💪
After making the most of his pre-season, Deakyn Smith is ready to step it up as a Demon. #FiredUppic.twitter.com/2Tl4VzAGG8
Pickett is another scoring option and Goodwin was full of praise for the teenager, who kicked seven goals in 14 games in his debut season last year, for the work he’s done to get ready for Round 1.
“He’s done a lot of work Kozzie. He’s done more than what people think,” Goodwin said.
“He went away for three weeks and has done F45 (training) every day in Adelaide, he’s trained with an SANFL club, he’s just been outstanding in his preparation.
“He has played one and a half VFL games and played really strongly. he puts himself up for selection.”
Goodwin said his more mature playing group was at a stage where they “wanted to achieve something from their careers” and he expected a big step forward from them all.
“We get to a certain age and players want to achieve certain things in their career and I’ve got a sense this group does,” Goodwin said.
“Does that guarantee anything? No. Does it give you a chance ? Yes.
“The players have been brilliant in their ownership of standards and discipline and I think that comes with maturity, and once you start to build maturity you start to get consistency. That’s been our mantra.”
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