Max Gawn's pointed message to Clayton Oliver after classy gesture alongside wife

The Melbourne Demons captain invited his struggling teammate into his family home at one stage.

Max Gawn and Clayton Oliver.
Max Gawn had previously invited Clayton Oliver to stay with him and wife Jessica in their family home. Image: Getty

Max Gawn has vowed to hold Clayton Oliver to the standards that the Melbourne Demons expect, even if the young gun is struggling mentally. Oliver impressed during a pre-season practice match last weekend, returning with a bang after a tumultuous off-season that saw him step away from the club at one stage.

The 26-year-old has battling a number of personal and mental health issues, but appears to be on the right track and is pushing for selection for the Demons' opening round clash with the Sydney Swans. The situation during the off-season got to the point where Gawn actually invited Oliver to live in his family home - even though wife Jessica was heavily pregnant.

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The Melbourne captain delved into further detail on Thursday, one day after he fronted the media to defend the culture at the club in the wake of fresh anti-doping charges against Joel Smith. "I'm hoping he can beat it ... I personally haven't had any mental health (challenges) or any real diagnosis, but there are a lot of people around me who have, and Clayton's one of them," Gawn told Triple M radio.

"I know how hard it can be to get out of it, so he's got all our support. He obviously still has to live by our culture and our standards, and we'll keep him honest with that. So if there is stuff that does pop up, you will probably hear about it, or see it, but we're hoping he has gotten to the better side now."

Gawn has first-hand knowledge of what Oliver has been through after living with him for a brief period. He said last year: "I'm in pretty good dialogue with him and we talk every day and he's been (staying) at my house for a while, so I think Clayton is going really well.

"I understand the noise that is coming about Clayton could really bring someone down, but I feel like the support that he's got around him will help him get through it. There has been some stuff over the last few weeks but I feel like this happens at most clubs. There's adversity here, adversity there. Obviously, our adversity has all come at once."

Clayton Oliver, Max Gawn and Simon Goodwin at the Melbourne Demons.
Clayton Oliver, Max Gawn and Simon Goodwin after the AFL grand final in 2021. (Getty Images)

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On Thursday, Gawn said Oliver was "inspiring" him by how hard he was working off the field. "He's been in and around some crossroads, he's stuffed up and he's owned up to a lot of those stuffing ups," the premiership captain said.

"He's lied to me, he's told the truth, he's done everything you can do in a little period. But you can see how hard he's working to become his best self."

Gawn admitted that having to constantly answer questions about Melbourne's culture had taken a big toll on him. The furore surrounding the club descended even further this week when Smith has hit with three anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs) of the AFL Anti-Doping Code over alleged "trafficking or attempted trafficking" of cocaine to third parties.

"After the presser (on Wednesday) - I've done three pressers where there's been quite a lot going on and you just build yourself up to make sure you say everything right, and then the moment after that I hit a bit of a flat spot," Gawn said. "But I'm fine. I back in our team, I back in our culture. We're gonna stuff up at times. Hopefully we get to the pointy end of this year."

with AAP

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