Mark Neeld
Mark Neeld

Melbourne coach Mark Neeld has promised Chris Dawes he will be played exclusively as a key forward and not a pinch-hitting ruckman as he was at Collingwood.

Dawes suffered a prolonged form slump at the Magpies last season, when he was forced to support Darren Jolly in the ruck.

But Neeld said on Wednesday that his new recruit - picked up in the AFL trade period - would be strictly played forward at the Demons.

"Dawes has been brought into our group to play as a key position forward and he won't be doing the 'key forward who goes into the ruck' role with us. We think he is really well suited to be being a key forward," Neeld said.

Neeld was an assistant to Mick Malthouse in Collingwood's 2010 premiership, which Dawes played in, and the sophomore coach said their relationship played a role in the power forward crossing to the Demons.

"I would describe Dawesy as a really solid citizen. He's very serious about his footy, he's very intelligent, he's studying law off the field. He's an aggressive trainer and plays an aggressive brand of footy," he said.

"We talk about the long-term aspect that Chris brings to the club. He's 24 and he also brings a lot of experience coming out of a good culture, the way the Pies go about it, the way they play and the way they train.

"He has also managed to play in the last five finals series. Include the drawn Grand Final, he has played in three Grand Finals and cracked it for a flag. We're certainly not underestimated what that brings to our group.

"And we've added Shannon Byrnes as well. Between them, there's a lot of experience at great clubs and the knowledge they can pass on to our boys of what it's like to play at the pointy end.''

The Demons exchanged picks 20 and 45 for Dawes and 58, meaning they now have just one pick (selection four) inside the top 50 at this year's draft.

But Neeld said Melbourne was flush with bottom-age players after they earlier this month secured father-son young gun Jack Viney, key forward prospect Jesse Hogan (he will be eligible to play in 2014) and Northern Territory speedster Dominic Barry.

Neeld said Melbourne would remain an active player in the rest of the trade period, which ends October 26.

North Melbourne's Cameron Pedersen and Essendon's Scott Gumbleton have both been linked to Melbourne, although Neeld said it was unlikely the club would have space for both players.

"There are another couple of players we are keen to talk about and we will have those conversations (later this week)."


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