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No more ruck work for Demon Dawes

Chris Dawes.

Chris Dawes. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

CHRIS Dawes will be freed from back-up ruck duties at new club Melbourne next season.

Demons coach Mark Neeld said the 24-year-old, whose form for Collingwood faltered this season as he deputised for Darren Jolly in the ruck, would make up a formidable key-forward line with Mitch Clark.

''It's terrific for Mitch Clark, and the rest of the team, to have a second big body down there,'' Neeld said. '' 'Dawesy' has been brought into our group to play as a key forward. He won't be doing the key forward who goes into the ruck role with us.''

As a result, developing key-position player Jack Watts, 21, looks certain to be a permanent defender.

Neeld, a former assistant coach at Collingwood, said he was rapt to secure Dawes for many reasons, including talent, experience and off-field leadership. He bracketed Dawes with fellow recruit, ex-Cat Shannon Byrnes, as players who boast ''a lot of experience at great clubs, and the knowledge to pass on to our boys about what it's like to play at the pointy end''.

''Everyone knows we've got a really inexperienced group, especially in terms of games played, and we're quite young. Over the past four or five years we've brought a lot of youngsters into our side. It's absolutely crucial they've got some experienced, senior players out of good cultures that have possibly played finals or are premiership players,'' Neeld said.

Neeld also commended Dawes as ''as a really solid citizen''.

''He's very serious about his footy and intelligent - he's studying law - and he's a very settled fellow. He's an aggressive trainer and he plays an aggressive brand of footy, which are all the things that we want,'' he said.

Neeld also said he was confident the midfield could provide sufficient service into its forward line to get full value from Clark and Dawes.

''For the boys in the midfield like [Jack] Grimes and [Jack] Trengove and [Nathan] Jones, to look up and have two big targets that's the way we want to play,'' he said.

Dawes' arrival has not ended the Demons' interest in Essendon's Scott Gumbleton or North Melbourne's Cameron Pedersen, although Neeld said it was likely they would target only one.

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