Freeze MND and rucks highlight AFL clash

Roger Vaughan
Demon Max Gawn's showdown with Collingwood's Brodie Grundy will be a highlight of their AFL clash

The Big Freeze and the Big Duel will highlight the Queen's Birthday AFL clash between Melbourne and Collingwood at the MCG.

For once the annual clash is a genuine blockbuster, with the Demons fourth on the ladder and boasting a six-game winning streak.

Collingwood are seventh and have won their last three.

Monday's match is one of the most anticipated games of the season, with both sides well on the way to ending their finals droughts.

But question marks remain over the two teams, who are yet to beat anyone else currently in the top eight.

One of the highlights of the day will come before the first bounce, with all 18 coaches taking part in the fourth Freeze MND ice bath slide.

Former coach Neale Daniher has become a prominent figure in the fight against motor neurone disease, but this will be the last year he is involved so heavily.

Daniher expects if he is still alive this time next year, MND will have taken away his speech.

The opening bounce will mark the start of the one-on-one duel between Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn and his Collingwood rival Brodie Grundy.

There has been plenty of focus on the match-up, with Gawn widely-regarded as the All-Australian ruckman halfway through the season and Grundy also tracking well at No.2.

Given the strength and depth of the rival midfields, their ruck duels will have a massive influence on the result because first use of the ball at the stoppages will be critical.

Melbourne must also reorganise their defence, with high-profile recruit Jake Lever out for the rest of the season because of a knee reconstruction.

The Demons have recalled Cam Pedersen and Joel Smith as they start experimenting with their back line, while high-flying defender Jeremy Howe is back for the Magpies.