Splitting Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy as the AFL’s best ruckman is almost impossible


Who would you choose: Max Gawn or Brodie Grundy? It is 1 of footy’s most requested but potentially most unanswerable queries.

Do you opt for the aerial force?

Or the big gentleman who moves like a small gentleman?

Gawn is Melbourne’s most vital participant. Grundy is Collingwood’s.

Both equally are dominant ruckmen, but they dominate in really different means.

Regular ruckwork, developed

For a great deal of Australian football background, a ruckman’s occupation description was straightforward: contend in the ruck and include the house one kick guiding enjoy.

Gawn is the modern exemplar. Not only is his beard a throwback, but so much too is his style of engage in.

His clearest energy is his ruck do the job. He can faucet to just about any angle at virtually any distance.

In spite of his stature, a large amount of Gawn’s taps arrive from shoulder or waistline top immediately after he’s out-bodied his opponent. But he is no a single-trick pony.

Gawn can tap it ahead:

Fall it at his feet:

Smash it into the horizon:

And execute his specialty — the blindside tap:

The past demands both equally chemistry and apply. Have confidence in and conversation are essential.

Gawn normally has a focus on window of 50 percent a metre or a lot less in which to immediate his faucet. If his timing or positioning is a bit off, the ball can be speedily cleared the other way, exposing Melbourne’s defenders.

That took place a little way too typically very last season, and this yr the Demons have utilised a a little extra defensive framework at stoppages. Their chemistry continues to be a get the job done in progress.

Absent from the ruck, Gawn’s design could be drawn from an old coaching guide. He normally drifts back to include room in entrance of opposing forwards.

His defensive affect can be observed in the figures.

Gawn feasts on rushed kicks ahead from the opposition.

And even if he would not take an intercept mark, he’ll often drive a stoppage — the place his excellent ruck perform will give his facet an edge.

The present-day “third man up” rule has manufactured it hard to curb Gawn’s affect in the ruck. Some sides have tried using to exhaust him by double-teaming him. Some others have experimented with matching more rapidly opponents on him to make him extra defensively accountable. Few have experienced considerably achievement.

The new university

Though Gawn has been reminding us how helpful a ruckman can be as a spare in defence, Grundy has been exhibiting the benefit they can offer in common enjoy.

Grundy prospects all rucks in groundball will get and productive disposals — two studies that are generally much more affiliated with midfielders.

He is remarkably agile at floor amount for a guy of his height. At stoppages, he hardly ever smashes the ball away with a strong fist like Gawn. He prefers finesse more than pressure.

But if his midfielders cannot capitalise on his deft faucets, Grundy is unafraid of following them up himself. He drives the Magpies’ attacking actions.

Away from the stoppages, Grundy assists Collingwood’s unfold and spacing by presenting as a cellular concentrate on.

His motion can force opposition switches and make confusion and mismatches. Opposing rucks struggle to retain up with him across the ground, much like they struggle to consist of Gawn in the air.

The notion of putting an additional midfielder in as ruck is not new, but compared with sacrificial ruck alternatives like Jackson Trengove or Shaun Grigg, Grundy also occurs to be 1 of the ideal tap ruckmen in the league. The combination of his ruck do the job and exceptional ball use make him one of the AFL’s most impactful onballers.

However, when Grundy fails to assert himself physically, it can harm his facet. For instance, in Collingwood’s losses during the past 3 several years, Grundy has only averaged .8 contested marks for each recreation, while in wins he has racked up 1.4 contested grabs.

The followers

Grundy and Gawn usually are not on your own in their differing kinds of ruckwork.

Like Grundy, undersized Brisbane ruck Stefan Martin has prolonged been valued for his ground-amount work. The early draft picks employed on Tim English and Luke Jackson in modern years highlight the appeal of locating “the future Grundy”.

Stefan Martin (right), like Grundy, has been lauded for his ground operate.(AAP: Darren England)

The achievements of Gawn, meanwhile, has served bolster the case for owning persistence with youthful talls. Sides are also having challenges on taller alternatives at draft time, comprehension that you cannot teach measurement.

Uncooked two-metre-as well as prospects like Sam Alabakis (St Kilda), Ned Reeves (Hawthorn) and Michael Knoll (Sydney) might not close up emulating Gawn, but the template for accomplishment is there.

There are other rucks with distinct archetypes, which include the ruck-forward, dual rucks and the all-close to prowess of Nic Naitanui — who arguably stands along with Gawn and Grundy when totally in good shape.

But appropriate now he is a stage below two guys who — in spite of their lots of variations — are nearly extremely hard to independent.



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