Tonight will be the second time in seven years that Carlton and Brisbane have squared off in the pre-season cup final, both occasions being fought out at Etihad Stadium.
Unfortunately for Brisbane – the true ‘home’ team – the match has been shipped down to Melbourne due to the unavailability of the GABBA due to cricketing commitments.
Lions coach Michael Voss was visibly angry with the decision earlier in the week, citing monetary incentives to move the game to Victoria, whilst Metricon Stadium will sit unused.
“We don’t get that chance to play in Queensland so which issue do you want to raise? Do you want to raise the fact we lose the chance to advertise our game in the south-east of Queensland?” he said.
“Do you want to raise (that) if the Gold Coast were actually playing this game, whether they’d be playing in Queensland? I don’t know, but we don’t get the chance to do it.”
Shying away from the off-field drama, Brisbane co-captain Jonathan Brown has indicated the significance of this match in the context of their 2013 season, saying that for a young and up-and-coming team, a grand final regardless of it being pre-season, is an important building block to premiership season success.
“For us, we don’t get a lot of blockbusters. And even though it is pre-season, it’s still a big game with a big build up,” he said yesterday.
“It’s good for the development of our group.”
The Lions will field a near full-strength side tonight, but so will the Blues, who welcome back former skipper Chris Judd to the line-up after he recovered from a pre-season shoulder injury.
The match will be the first official run as captain for newly-appointed Marc Murphy, who was sworn in on Wednesday.
Whilst there is no sign of real intent to from the Blues, the recall of Judd and Bryce Gibbs can only mean that Malthouse’s crew are taking the final seriously. With $200,000 on the line, it’s understandable as to why, and fans at Etihad Stadium might yet get see some top quality football in March.
Prediction: Carlton by 13