The third game of Round 2 is between two teams from different sides of the continent, Brisbane and Fremantle.
With a trip of over 4000 kilometres facing the away team, it would normally be one of the toughest gigs of the season. But does the fact that the West Australian teams are currently living and training in Queensland in any way mitigate the tyranny of distance these clubs normally face? Or do the restrictions placed on the players by the COVID-19 pandemic negate any advantage gained living only an hour’s drive from the Gabba where the game will be played?
Time will tell, but as different players react differently to the rigours of plane flights, it may go some way to creating a closer game than current sentiment is predicting.
Brisbane’s coach Chris Fagan is in his fourth season at the Lions and has the lowest win-loss ratio of all current coaches except fellow Queenslander Stuart Dew, as well as the two new coaches yet to open their account: his opponent in this game John Longmuir, and Adelaide’s Matthew Nicks.
However, his record of 26 wins from 68 games only tells part of the story. After enduring two years of five wins per season, last year he built the Lions into a respectable finals contender who lost their two finals games to the eventual grand finalists, Richmond (who scored a convincing victory over them) and Greater Western Sydney, who snuck home by three points.
From an AFL traditional milestone viewpoint, Fremantle’s Cam McCarthy will be hoping to celebrate three things: a win by Fremantle, his 50th game for the club, and his 100th AFL goal.
Daniel Rich, the Lions’ most experienced current player, will pass Tim Notting on the club’s top 100 game-players list, which includes all games played for both the Bears and the Lions. Notting was born in Cairns and was a member of Brisbane’s first two premiership teams and played in the losing grand final against Port Adelaide.
Darcy Gardiner will also move up the top 100 list, leaving behind Martin Leslie and Adrian Fletcher and joining former ruckman Matthew Leuenberger in 44th spot on the list. Leuenberger, a high draft pick at number four in the 2006 national draft, came from East Perth in the WAFL, but had a bad run of injuries and finished his career at Essendon.
Allen Christensen, Hugh McCluggage, Jarrod Berry and Alex Witherden, who all appear in the bottom third of Brisbane’s top 100 game-players list, will all improve their standing on the list if fit and in form and chosen to play against the Dockers on Saturday, June 13.
For Fremantle, Matthew Taberner will equal the game tally of Graham Polak. Coincidentally, Polak – like Matthew Leuenberger mentioned above – was an overall fourth draft pick from the WAFL, and also like Leuenberger, he finished his league career at a second club (Richmond).
One game behind Taberner on Freo’s top 100 list is Darcy Tucker, the ex-Horsham Saints player who will equal the Fremantle games-played record of Chris Tarrant. Tarrant, who started and ended his career at Collingwood, sandwiched four years at the Dockers in between his Magpies days and gave the club good service with 72 games and 60 goals between 2007 and 2010. For the Magpies, he fell just short of 200 games (196) and kicked 307 goals. Tarrant still figures prominently in the top 100 game-players and goal-scorers at both Collingwood (39 and 14) and Fremantle (59 and 35).