MAX Gawn acknowledges it’s not the popular view but remains confident out-of-contract Melbourne premiership teammate Luke Jackson will stay with the AFL club beyond this year.
Jackson appears increasingly likely to leave the Demons, having put off contract talks until the end of the season.
The 20-year-old West Australian is being hotly pursued by rival clubs and has been most heavily linked with Fremantle.
Jackson is Melbourne’s biggest re-signing priority after fellow flag stars Clayton Oliver and Angus Brayshaw inked long-term deals earlier this year.
“Luke’s a talent, and he’s got every right, as every player does, to look at any offer that’s coming his way,” Gawn told reporters on Monday.
“I’m pretty confident he’s going to be a Melbourne player still and I know that’s very far from what the consensus is out in the media.
“He was the happiest person I’ve ever seen (last Friday night) beating Fremantle, who is the team that he’s supposed to be going to.
“He seemed the happiest person out there.”
Gawn shares a close bond with Jackson, his protege and ruck partner, who arrived at the Demons via pick three in the 2019 draft.
“I love playing with him, I love being his leader, I love being his friend, I love coaching him, and I love seeing little bits that I’ve told him during the week come out on game day,” Gawn said.
“I’m really excited, especially for the next seven weeks to play with Luke and then hopefully for the next few years.”
Gawn said the media attention on Jackson in Perth last week during the build-up to the Fremantle clash was “crazy” but said the young gun is handling it well.
“He’s the best character for it – I actually think he doesn’t know he’s out of contract,” Gawn said.
“That little bit helps him. He doesn’t read anything, he doesn’t look at anything, he just continues on his merry way, and I think his performances are showing that.
“If you go out there and watch him, he doesn’t look like he’s over-thinking. He’s just out there playing football.”
Gawn on Monday helped launch Melbourne’s annual ‘Round for Reach’, recognising the legacy of club great Jim Stynes 10 years since his passing.
The dedicated blockbuster against Collingwood on Friday night will help raise funds for The Reach Foundation, the not-for-profit Stynes co-founded in 1994.
(C) AAP 2022