Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin is confident emerging ruckman Luke Jackson will lock in his future with the Demons beyond next season “in the not too distant future”.
The 20-year-old from Western Australia is one of the most sought-after players in the competition, having played in a premiership in his second year as he learns the ruck craft alongside the game’s best ruckman in Max Gawn.
Melbourne is confident Luke Jackson will remain as the team heads back to Perth. Credit:Getty Images
He is yet to commit beyond 2022 as his stocks continue to soar, with the youngster spending more time in the ruck against the Saints to give his sore skipper a chance to play forward. It was a taste of things to come as the Demons have outlined a plan during contract discussions for Jackson to succeed Gawn as Melbourne’s No. 1 ruck.
“He’s a terrific young player,” Goodwin said. “We’re really confident with where that [negotiation] sits with him, and I’m sure something will be done in the not too distant future.”
Goodwin said you only had to watch how the No.3 pick plays for the Demons and connections Jackson has on and off field with his teammates to recognise how invested he is in the future of the football club. He will return to Perth this week as the Demons play West Coast at Optus Stadium in round nine.
“The relationship he has with his teammates is extraordinary, and hopefully we will get something done in the not too distant future,” Goodwin said.
Another player out of contract at season’s end is Angus Brayshaw, who put in a best-on-ground performance playing on the wing and across half-back.
Goodwin said Brayshaw had stepped up to fill Christian Salem’s role without complaint as he builds his reputation as one of the finest wingmen in the game.
“It’s just an expectation that we have that when you play at Melbourne that is what you do. You fit in where the team needs you to fit in and you execute your role,” Goodwin said. “He will do whatever the team needs him to do.”
The win stretched Melbourne’s winning streak to 15 with 21 of the 23 members of the premiership team playing against the Saints, with only Salem and Michael Hibberd missing through injury.
Despite having matches against bottom-of-the-table West Coast and North Melbourne in the next two rounds, Goodwin said they had not considered resting or managing players at this stage of the season.
“We have never ever taken a risk with players but we want to continue to put our guys out there and continue to forge ahead in our season. We don’t look at [resting players] at this stage,” Goodwin said.
He said the team had built a program that worked hard to prepare in a professional and ruthless manner regardless of where their upcoming opposition sat on the ladder.
Defender Jake Lever was the only concern out of the game after he played on despite copping a corked leg in the first half.
St Kilda coach Brett Ratten said the Demons provided his team with example of how hard they need to work over four quarters to match the very best teams.
“That is the test for any team that plays Melbourne. You have to play the full game and that is what they did today and we weren’t at the level we’d like,” Ratten said.
“A few of the things we tried went to an extreme … sometimes you try things and fail, and it is OK, but the big thing is what did we got out of it? We got a snapshot of what the best looks like.”
Ratten was impressed with Jack Billings’ performance in the VFL and he could be a chance to return against Geelong, while Dan Butler is in doubt after reporting Achilles soreness.
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