The Courier-Mail

Forward thinking for Gawn in 2021

- MARC MCGOWAN

TOWERING ruckman Max Gawn is set to be a significan­t part of Melbourne’s plans to cope without Sam Weideman and star recruit Ben Brown to start this season.

Gawn dominated in the ruck and in stints up forward in the Demons’ 14.9 (93) to 12.10

(82) win over Richmond, in a mostly high-quality practice match hitout at Casey Fields.

Weideman (leg stress fracture) still faces the best part of three months out, while former Kangaroo Brown

(knee) is hoping to miss only the first few rounds.

In their absence, Melbourne turned to a combinatio­n of Tom McDonald, Bayley Fritsch, Luke Jackson and Gawn as marking targets – and benefited from more attacking ball movement further afield.

Gawn rounded out his strong ruck display with a couple of marks and goals, while Fritsch was typically lively with three majors and McDonald also looks primed for an improved campaign.

Kade Chandler (three) and Christian Petracca (two) were the Demons’ other multiple goalscorer­s, while Jake Aarts (three), Jack Riewoldt and

Josh Caddy (two each) impacted the scoreboard for the Tigers.

Versatile young ruckman Jackson’s inclusion in the side will enable Gawn to sneak forward more often, defender Jake Lever told reporters afterwards.

“Maxy looked very comfortabl­e down there and I know that playing on him in pre-season, when a big, 210cm bloke comes down, it’s pretty scary for the opposition,”

Lever said.

“It’s something we’re looking at, and today it worked. I think what Maxy wants to do is probably (play at both ends).

“The way the game’s being played at the minute; obviously being able to get the ball inside 50 and lock it in, or mark it, is really important in the game.’’

McDonald kicked just one goal, in the last quarter from a perfect Christian Petracca pass, but also hit the post on another set shot and looked more agile than last year.

THE heartbroke­n family of Keith Titmuss have turned to the Australian Brain Bank in their desperate search for a cause of the young Manly player’s sudden death after training in November.

The Titmuss family – father Paul, mum Lafo, brother Jesse and sister Zara – want answers as to why their much-loved ‘Keithy’ died so unexpected­ly.

And those answers, they hope, could prevent another young footballer from dying.

The parents still haven’t been given an official cause of death after the autopsy results were inconclusi­ve.

The autopsy indicated Titmuss (pictured) did not sustain a heart attack or any organ failure.

In their search for closure Paul and Lafo have given Titmuss’ brain to the Australian Brain Bank.

The Courier-Mail can also reveal Titmuss’ initials and his official club number – 623 – will adorn all Manly lower-grade jumpers this season.

Titmuss, 20, collapsed and died after a 90 minute off-season non-contact training workout at Narrabeen in late November.

The family has been told that test results on his brain could take up from three to six months. If the tests return inconclusi­ve, Titmuss’ cause of death may sadly be known as an Act of God.

“We are still waiting on results,” Paul said. “We are honoured that Keith will be remembered on the jumpers this year.”

It is understood the NRL and Manly haven’t been notified of the autopsy findings. There will be a coronial inquiry into Titmuss’ death mid-year.

Paul and Lafo are confused at some of the protocols that took place around Titmuss’ death. The family, club and NRL are seeking closure.

“There are a lot of questions that need to be answered but the family doesn’t want any finger pointing. There shouldn’t be a blame game. Keith’s family has remained incredibly dignified through this incredibly sad time,” said close family friend, Reno Santaguida.

 ??  ?? Demons star Max Gawn looks to mark in a practice match against Richmond.
Demons star Max Gawn looks to mark in a practice match against Richmond.
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