Brisbane coach Michael Voss has tipped Carlton for the AFL’s top four, which he says makes it ideal facing the Blues in the pre-season final.
Voss has also accused the AFL of insulting Queensland fans with their reasoning for staging Friday night’s game at Etihad Stadium.
And he and Blues coach Mick Malthouse have made it clear they don’t like being constrained by the interchange cap, while other clubs playing practice matches this weekend aren’t.
Voss said the Blues were much better than their 10th placing under Brett Ratten last season suggested.
“I rate them a top-four side in the competition,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“I know they had some things happen last year but they’re a very good football team.
“Where they probably finished as opposed to their capacity wasn’t quite where you’d expect.”
He said Brisbane’s youngsters in particular would benefit from facing high-class opposition in front of a good crowd, with a trophy on the line.
Lions co-captain Jonathan Brown said in that sense, it would mean more to Brisbane than Carlton.
“They get to play a lot of blockbusters during the season, no matter how they’re going,” the veteran forward said.
“For us, we don’t get a hell of a lot of blockbusters and, even though it is pre-season, it is a big game with a big build-up.
“It will probably be the biggest crowd a lot of the younger players have played in front of.”
Malthouse said how his players performed on such an occasion could book them home-and-away berths.
“This is a big stage, in a grand final, regardless of whether it be NAB Cup or any other cup,” he said.
“This is important … we want to win, Michael’s team want to win.”
But Malthouse, an interchange cap critic, wasn’t happy that, unlike 12 other clubs, the Blues and Lions don’t get a chance to prepare without it.
“We are bound by 80 rotations on fulltime and the others aren’t. I don’t think we need to say any more,” he said.
Voss was philosophical.
“We want to be able to play under certain conditions to give ourselves the best chance. We don’t have those. It is what it is,” he said.
He was more blunt on AFL suggestions that if the game was played on the Gold Coast, it mightn’t have drawn many more than 5000 fans.
“I think it’s a bit of an insult to Queensland fans to suggest that only 5000 would turn up,” Voss said.