Lions ready for ‘whole other thing’
TEN years later, Lions star Daniel Rich will finally make his return to finals footy when Brisbane host Richmond at the Gabba.
Rich, 29, is the only member of the current Lions squad that played in the club's most recent finals appearance - a 51-point loss to the Western Bulldogs at MCG in 2009.
A week earlier Rich, who was in his first season with the Lions after being drafted from WAFL club Subiaco, also played in Brisbane's elimination final win over Carlton at a packed Gabba.
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"I'd played finals and grand finals a level below that in Perth, which was a really good experience, a good stepping stone, but AFL finals is a whole other thing," said Rich, whose stellar debut AFL season culminated with him winning the competition's Rising Star award.
Since then it has been slim pickings for Rich and the Lions - until this year.
Under the guidance of coach Chris Fagan, Brisbane finished the season in second spot and have a genuine shot at winning their first premiership since 2003.
"There's nothing better than a packed Gabba stadium - that's for sure," Rich said in predicting the atmosphere of Saturday night's sell-out contest.
"We've just got to treat it like they any other game. Yes there's going to be more people, it could be louder and the type of footy will be a bit more full on … but the boys should just enjoy it."
For his teammates not used to finals footy, Rich said their experience playing Richmond at the MCG two weeks ago in front of more than 75,000 people and the previous week against Geelong at a near-full Gabba would hold them in good stead.
"The past two weeks have been good preparation for us for what's to come," he said.
"We had a full crowd here (in Brisbane) against Geelong, and then we played in a finals-like atmosphere against Richmond, so that's a good preparation for anyone, whether you've experienced it before or if you haven't.
"The boys should be really confident that they've play in such big games and be looking forward to it."
But as good as it was for the Lions to soak up the surrounds of the MCG - the grand final venue - a fortnight ago, the result left a sour taste in their mouths, with Richmond winning by 27 points.
The loss ended Brisbane's nine-match winning streak and their hopes of claiming the minor premiership.
"We definitely learnt a lot from that game and can take that with us into ... game against Richmond," Rich said.