Bombers wary of Demons, even without Max Gawn

Essendon can't simply assume Max Gawn's absence will turn the crucial ruck battle their way against Melbourne, says coach Brad Scott, as he weighs up whether to field two rucks.

The Demons expect Gawn to miss two or three matches with a chipped fibula, ahead of facing the Bombers, Fremantle and GWS - all current top-eight sides.

It offers Essendon ruckman Sam Draper, who Scott said was getting back to his best, a golden chance to assert himself on Saturday night's clash at the MCG.

Scott wouldn't confirm a recall for veteran Todd Goldstein, who was managed against Collingwood, to assist Draper - a call he admitted would have been more likely if Gawn had been playing.

Sam Draper and Darcy Cameron.
Ruckman Sam Draper was influential in the Bombers' last-out win over defending premiers Collingwood.

"Whether it's (Tom) Fullarton or whether it's someone else comes in the ruck from Melbourne, they'll be capable players," Scott said. 

"So I think we'd be taking some liberties if we thought we're just going to be given an opportunity in the ruck to exploit Melbourne's perceived weakness there.

"Because it's only perceived and it's only a weakness if we take advantage of it. 

"Playing two rucks doesn't guarantee us that but it's a potential opportunity.

"... I'm just really conscious that if you start thinking that because a really good opposition player's out, that automatically means that you get to dominate that part of the game - that's a huge mistake in elite sport."

Demons coach Simon Goodwin has former Brisbane Lions ruck-forward Fullarton and possible debutant Will Verrall in the mix.

Jacob van Rooyen presents another option, having taken over when Gawn was hurt against 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."

Bailey Williams and Max Gawn.
Max Gawn battles in the ruck with Bailey Williams during his last-out game for the Dees.

Goodwin was particularly wary of "a really strong ruckman" in Draper.

"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," he said.

Gawn, 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 Fremantle 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."

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