AFL grand final: Lions like it hot, but spring heatwave is a worry for Magpies

Darcy Moore of Collingwood and Brisbane's Harris Andrews raise the premiership cup that, by Saturday night, will belong to only one of them.

Darcy Moore of Collingwood and Brisbane's Harris Andrews raise the premiership cup that, by Saturday night, will belong to only one of them. Photo: AAP

Just as the burst of spring heat torched Jack Payne’s hopes, so Collingwood hope Patrick Lipinski’s fresh legs will make a difference in the grand final cauldron.

The temperature will nudge 30C on Saturday at the MCG and Brisbane coach Chris Fagan thinks that can work in the Lions’ favour as they battle the Magpies for the premiership.

It’s expected to be the hottest weather for an AFL grand final since 2015 and selections were made accordingly.

Payne’s desperate bid for a recall at Brisbane was cruelled by his lack of match fitness and the expected sapping conditions.

An ongoing ankle injury forced him out of the Lions’ preliminary final win over Carlton after 23 games this season.

Darcy Gardiner took Payne’s place and went a long way to guaranteeing his grand final selection with a solid game on Coleman Medallist Charlie Curnow.

‘An extremely hard decision’

“An extremely hard decision to make, because Jack has been part of the team for most of the year,” Fagan said of Brisbane’s decision to take an unchanged line-up into the grand final.

“It came down really to match fitness – Jack Payne leading into this grand final would have played one game in five weeks, and his first full training session was yesterday.

“He did really well, but … it’s going to be hot out there tomorrow. The bodies are going to be bashing in pretty hard.

“It just felt it was a wiser decision to go with the guy (Gardiner) who was a little bit more match-hardened.”

Payne was named as one of Brisbane’s emergencies, with Jarryd Lyons their sub.

Lipinski lost his place in the Collingwood 22 to livewire forward Jack Ginnivan, who had been the sub for their two finals.

But the hard-running midfielder could have an important cameo when the Magpies bring his fresh legs into the game.

Coach Craig McRae said the weather “was, to some degree” a factor in picking Lipinski as the sub.

A daughter’s advice

“Charli, my seven-year-old daughter, she said to me, ‘Dad’s it going to be hot … that’s OK, Dad, because Collingwood have a lot of fans and the players will be pretty cool,” McRae said with a grin.

Fagan noted Brisbane usually play at night, but said the warmer conditions in their home city might give them an advantage on Saturday.

“In terms of adapting to the conditions, it’s favourable to us that we can train in that sort of weather, more often than not,” he said.

The Magpies made two changes, also bringing in tall utility Billy Frampton for his first final to replace injured forward Dan McStay.

Collingwood are banking on Ginnivan to be a firestarter up forward after they managed only nine and eight goals in their two finals.

“We just think Jack will give us a bit of a spark. He’s a big game player,” McRae said.

McRae conceded he didn’t think the Magpies would win unless they kicked more goals.

“But each game represents something different – this opposition clearly are potent in attack and we’re going to have to defend the ground well,” McRae said.

Barrackers out in strength

McRae and Fagan were wowed by the massive fan turnout for Friday’s pre-game festivities.

“That was like nothing I’ve ever experienced – just incredible,” McRae said.

Fagan was taken aback at Friday morning’s MCG training run when he walked out onto the ground to be greeted by thousands of cheering Lions fans.

“I wouldn’t have gone out there if I knew there were that many,” he joked.

This is Collingwood’s first grand final since their narrow loss to West Coast in 2018 and the minor premiers have not won the premiership since 2010.

Brisbane last made a grand final when they lost to Port Adelaide in 2004, denying them a premiership four-peat.


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