Chris Dawes and James Frawley are likely to share the forward line again this weekend for Melbourne. Photo: Pat ScalaIf there was one area on the field to engender confidence in Melbourne fans entering the season, it was the Demons’ forward line. With Mitch Clark on the comeback trail, former Magpie Chris Dawes more settled in his second season across the Olympic Park divide, and prodigious talent Jesse Hogan at last able to unleash his gifts on the competition, one would have been hard pressed to envisage a situation whereby Melbourne would find its attacking linchpin in the form of an All-Australian key defender.
Clark has since retired to focus his energies on battling depression, while Dawes’ entrance into the 2014 season was delayed by a calf complaint, and Hogan, too, has been put on ice to nurse a back issue. So a locum was employed inside 50, and after a 24-possession, 14-mark and two-goal performance in the drought-breaking triumph over Carlton, newly made forward star James Frawley won’t be shifting anywhere, at least in the opinion of teammate Jeremy Howe.
“If it’s up to him, he’ll definitely be playing forward [and] after that performance it’d be highly unlikely for him to move out of there. So if he can play like that, he can probably spend the rest of the year down there,” Howe said on Friday.
Howe was not, however, downplaying the role of a fresh and bullocking Dawes in the Melbourne win. “Yeah, [Dawes] has come in and he’s just got a good presence about him; always rocks up at the right times, which is what we need,” he said. “He’s getting called the decoy around the club at the moment by Chip Frawley, so so he’ll probably try and stamp his authority a bit more even this week.”
Howe, 23, has been jettisoned to defence, but despite the role being an unfamiliar one for the Demons’ leading goal kicker in 2013, he is not perturbed by the change of scenery.
“If [Frawley] keeps on playing well, there’s no chance I’m going to get down there, but yeah, I’m happy playing in the back line and if he can keep kicking goals I’m more than happy,” Howe said.
The high-flying Tasmanian went goalless over the first two weeks of the season, a fact that Howe recognises was a major factor in the move down back.
“I definitely started slow in the forward line; I wasn’t making the most of my opportunities and then I’ve kind of gone back and started to focus on a new role off half-back, more so to get my own confidence going,” he said.
“Last week, I didn’t get a lot of it but still felt involved through defensive actions and stuff like that … just see how long it lasts.”
Howe said the self-belief within the team had increased following the victory last weekend, although the focus had shifted quickly to the task of toppling the improving Gold Coast Suns on Sunday at the MCG.
“The mood’s up and about. I think the mood’s always been positive around the club, but I think getting our first win just gives confidence to the boys that what we’ve been doing actually works,” he said. “We tried to keep a lid on it, we know we’ve got a long way to go, we enjoyed the win for what it was, but we knew we had to quickly turn around and face Gold Coast this week.”