Preuss just the man to ease Max’s load

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUXWORTH

AFL Queens­land Academy and high per­for­mance coach Adrian Fletcher believes Townsville ju­nior Bray­don Preuss can help al­le­vi­ate the huge pres­sure on star Mel­bourne ruck­man Max Gawn af­ter his move to Mel­bourne was made of­fi­cial yes­ter­day.

The 23- year- old, taken at pick 15 in the 2015 rookie draft, will be a Demon un­til at least the end of 2021 af­ter play­ing just eight AFL games, all of them in 2017, in four years with North Mel­bourne.

The Her­mit Park ju­nior’s de­ci­sion to be Gawn’s un­der­study has raised some eye­brows, but Fletcher in­sists the 206cm ruck­man will help Gawn be even more dom­i­nant. “It might just help their bal­ance. In the mod­ern game, the ruck­men get worn out so there will be times when they may give Gawn a rest and just play Preussy,” Fletcher said.

“They’re not re­cruit­ing him to just fill up their list, they’re re­cruit­ing him be­cause they need him.

“The mid­field­ers love him, he puts it down their throat and he’s ag­gres­sive, and he’s got his en­durance up now.

“At Mel­bourne Gawn can go to full for­ward and look very dan­ger­ous, and Preuss can play in the ruck or go for­ward and kick two or three goals.”

Fletcher said the chance to learn the tricks of the ruck­ing trade from ar­guably the best in the game would fast track Preuss’s de­vel­op­ment.

“He’ll learn a heap. It’s Max’s work rate that gets him in the game,” Fletcher said.

“He works re­ally hard and cov­ers ground and helps his de­fence. He also goes for­ward and tests his op­po­si­tion ruck­man out, and fol­lows up around stop­pages. I think Bray­don is ready to play his best footy.”

A num­ber of Townsville ju­niors are a chance to join Preuss in the AFL through this year’s draft, mainly through the city’s as­so­ci­a­tion with the Gold Coast Suns Academy.

Tall de­fender Dirk Koe­nen was one of four Queens­lan­ders in­vited to the AFL Draft Com­bine in Mel­bourne ear­lier this month, and fel­low Suns NEAFL de­fender Ryan Gil­more has im­pressed this year.

Ruck- for­ward Matt Con­roy was in­vited to an AFL ‘ talls camp’ in April, while Em­manuel Baru is an­other highly rated young­ster.

“Dirk’s def­i­nitely a chance with his mo­bil­ity as a tall, he’s got re­ally good agility,” Fletcher said. “He’s not quick but he’s not slow ei­ther and has got a big en­gine. He can cover ground and that suits the mod­ern game.

“Ryan can play as a tall and small in de­fence, has good speed and is a strong body. He’s very dis­ci­plined and gives the team good run out of de­fence.

“Matt and Em­manuel have mas­sive up­side and could be a chance in the rookie draft.’’

The na­tional draft will be held from Novem­ber 22 to 23, with the pre- sea­son and rookie drafts also on Novem­ber 23.


AG­GRES­SIVE: Townsville’s Bray­don Preuss ( right) bat­tles Mag­pies’ Brodie Grundy while play­ing for the Kan­ga­roos at Eti­had Sta­dium.

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