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Majak Daw now 'elite'

Forward, ruckman and even midfielder; we all know Majak Daw had shown potential in just about every position on the ground, but ultimately, he was never able to cement his place in North’s 22.

Not even the Kangaroos’ coaches could predict his meteoric rise as a defender.

In fact, Daw’s form in 2018 has been so impressive, he’s now regarded as “elite” by Champion Data’s ranking system.

While the 195cm big-man has had nine years in the system, very few defenders could claim such a status after just 48 games, let alone barely a dozen as a backman.

“We discussed it (the move to defence) as a coaching group at the end of the season when we were talking about players and finding ways to improve,” Defensive coach Josh Drummond told Foxfooty.com.au.

“Scotty (Brad Scott) was the one who was really keen to try it, so we trained him as a defender before Christmas.

“The first week or two he looked a little bit nervous and we weren’t sure whether he would be a duck to water or not. After those first few sessions before Christmas, he improved really quickly.

“The first game in the JLT he learned a fair bit from the Melbourne boys and it was a baptism of fire really.

“He got beaten reasonably comfortably and the ball came in a fair bit. He got found out a few times but he worked on his subtle positioning and it was pleasing to see him take the feedback on board.

“Six weeks later he played Melbourne again and made his debut down back in that game and played pretty well.”

Daw’s progress since Round 3 has been nothing short of remarkable.

Despite playing just 16 games this year, North’s number one is second in the competition for intercept marks, behind the Eagles’ Jeremy McGovern.

Daw has also won 58 per cent of his possessions from a contest; higher than any other defender.

Previously, he hadn’t played more than nine games in any one season.

“I didn’t think he’d ever get to this level,” former teammate Nick Dal Santo admitted.

“He clearly had potential and do things others could not do, with his athleticism and speed.

“The bit he struggled with was the understanding of the game, particularly scenarios. You go back even one year, and you’d be surprised he has got to this point. He had pretty much flatlined.

“You have to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff. The way Brad Scott had managed him has been terrific. At times he has been the spare man in defence. To think he is given the responsibility to come forward, drop back, attack the footy or cover a man is quite amazing.

“It’s a real credit to him and where he’s come from.”

And those within the club are confident Daw can still take his game to another level.

“Majak played a couple of games forward this year and showed he was just a better all-round football player. He’s always had those physical attributes and that’s why he’s been such a tantalising prospect,” Drummond added.

“If he gets the positioning and technique right, he should be almost impossible to beat one-on-one.”

Daw’s latest test will come against the Crows on Sunday afternoon, with Josh Jenkins and Mitch McGovern his potential match-ups.