Max happy if Demons opt for 'Gawn-Grundy 4.0' in finals


Max Gawn would love Melbourne to try "Gawn-Grundy 4.0" as the Demons aim to maximise their AFL premiership potential and atone for last year's finals disaster.

The Demons must make at least one change for next Thursday's qualifying final against Collingwood at the MCG, with luckless forward Jake Melksham needing a knee reconstruction that ends his flag dream for another year.

While Melbourne have several options in attack, Gawn would be rapt if they brought back fellow ruckman Brodie Grundy to face his old club.

Grundy was recruited on a long-term deal as a project to work with Gawn and it has had patchy success this season.

Grundy was dropped after he returned to the side in round 22.

But Gawn says there have been mitigating factors and he is confident they can work as a ruck-forward duo.

"I have a pretty big ego at times and I like to think I can shoulder (the ruck) throughout the season if we didn't have Brody," he said on Thursday.

"I certainly think it has helped both of us - we're both feeling fit, fresh and healthy at this time of year.

"I don't know what it looks like (in the finals). I do know I'd have complete confidence if he does get picked, to be able to go straight back to Gawn-Grundy version 4.0 and see if we can do it again.

"I'm still bullish it will work."

Amid speculation that Grundy's time at Melbourne might only last this season, Gawn was also confident they will be teammates for the long term.

"I feel like the both of us can get going and can make it work. Obviously he's here for a while," he said.

After their drought-breaking 2021 premiership, the Demons went out of last year's finals series in straight sets and learned some harsh lessons about how to time their run into September.

Gawn said they have paid careful heed to what happened this time a year ago and are could not be better prepared this time.

"You really want to have a genuine crack. I'm not saying we didn't do that in 2022, we just want to put an exclamation mark on that, to make sure we get the most out of this little period," he said.

"You could be excused, winning seven in a row, winning a grand final and then winning 10 in a row ... that we were almost untouchable.

"We didn't say that, but that could be a potential thought.

"Then we were knocked off - we did run out of gas."

Gawn was asked if Collingwood, whose form has been patchy in the last few weeks, are this year's equivalent of the Demons from 12 months ago.

"That's a stretch, probably a better question to ask Darcy (Magpies captain Darcy Moore). Collingwood are still the best team in it," he said.

Gawn is gutted for Melksham and teammate Luke Dunstan, who was pressing for an AFL recall but now also needs a knee reconstruction.

The Demons skipper said Melksham, who has had more than his share of setbacks as an AFL player, is remarkably upbeat.

"Luckily enough, he's a really mature guy and the conversations I've had with him since, you can't believe how well he's talking," Gawn said.

"He's already talking about the Melksham return."

Fellow forward Bayley Fritsch hurt his foot in last Sunday's win over Sydney and Gawn said he is "off legs" this week.

But he is confident Fritsch will play against the Magpies.