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There’s no bigger test in the AFL than rucking against Max Gawn and Fremantle’s Sean Darcy took the lessons in his stride in a 54-point loss to Melbourne on Saturday at TIO Stadium.

Additionally, Darcy was playing his first AFL game in more than nine months and admitted to struggling in Darwin’s stifling humidity.

“It was very hard, I was blowing a fair bit especially going against Max Gawn,” Darcy said.

“He’s an unreal player and his workrate is first class. I’ve got a lot to learn from it.”

Darcy said he felt he improved as the game went on and collected 24 hitouts for the night.

“He’s one of the best ruckmen in our game at the moment,” Darcy said.

“If you’re ball watching, he’s gone and my reaction time was a bit down in the first half.

“For the second half I thought it picked up a little bit.

“He’s strong, good overhead and below the knees. His all round game is unreal. I need to learn from this game, go back and watch the vision, take some notes and get better.”

Importantly, Darcy said he felt no side effects from his PCL injury sustained in round two of the WAFL season in April.

It can only get better for Darcy as he continues to build his experience and fitness for the remaining seven games of the home and away season.

“I’m pretty cooked now but my knee pulled up really well,” Darcy said.

“So that’s a good thing and I just need to keep building on these performances. Get the run back in my legs and it’ll look up from there.”

The most glaring differential in the loss was in the inside 50 count.

“With 78 to 28 inside 50s, you just can’t compete,” Darcy said. 

“If we win the ball in the first place we play the game in the forward 50. It helps our defenders and forwards.”

While Darcy did his best to win the footy, with 11 contested possessions and three clearances, he said a lot of the responsibility fell on him and Fremantle’s engine room. 

“We need to win the ball at the source first of all,” Darcy said.

“They had 51 first possessions to our 26, which just isn’t good enough.

“As a midfield group we need to learn from the game and get better.”