Melbourne premiership captain Max Gawn says he urged coach Simon Goodwin to replace him with Luke Jackson in the ruck before the youngster inspired the third-quarter burst that broke the AFL grand final open.
The Demons were in trouble when Marcus Bontempelli’s third goal gave the Western Bulldogs a 19-point lead in Saturday’s third term at Optus Stadium.
Gawn – with five goals – had been the dominant player on the ground in Melbourne’s thumping preliminary final win over Geelong but was far less influential in the decider and, with the game on the line, called for the Demons to gamble on Rising Star winner Jackson.
It paid off, with Jackson, Christian Petracca, Clayton Oliver and Jack Viney combining with aplomb and Melbourne’s now-famous seven-goal blitz in the 15 minutes leading into three-quarter time reversing the game’s momentum and, with it, changing the course of AFL history.
“I did something I don’t normally do – or old Max definitely wouldn’t have done, I’d like to win the game off my own boot five years ago” Gawn told RSN on Tuesday.
“I came to the bench and told Goody that ‘I don’t think we’re getting what I thought we’d be getting’… from my dominance.
“I was winning every hit and we were looking a little bit stationary.
“So I said ‘I think Jacko’s the one for (Stefan Martin), we should unleash Jacko on Stef for five or 10 minutes to see what those fresh young legs can do against Stef.
“Jacko’s end of his third quarter … I went and sat in the forward line and I was just watching Jacko do his thing.
“I’m glad I made that decision to put him in there because it really was a game-changing moment.”
Gawn’s comments followed Goodwin saying he felt the Demons had finally shifted the “veil of negativity” and built a winning culture.
The “veil of negativity”, a phrase coined by predecessor Paul Roos, referred to the feeling around the club that supporters were waiting for and expecting the Demons to fail, having been let down so many times in the past.
“There’s a lot nerves and anxiety heading into the finals and there’s a lot of nerves heading into grand final day, but I think now we’ve shifted our culture,” Goodwin told Fox Footy on Monday night.
“It’s a winning environment, it’s a performance environment.
“Our supporters should now go to the footy proud of their footy team, (knowing) that they’re going to compete and they’re a chance to win every time they play.”