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Dees prepared for Zorko rematch, ‘tough’ Petracca set to play, why Buckley loved Fly’s Pies drive-by

Melbourne are prepared to resume hostilities with Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko in Friday night’s semi final, following the infamous spat between the two sides during their Round 23 clash.

Zorko was widely criticised for comments directed at defender Harrison Petty’s mother that left the Demon in tears during their win at the Gabba, while the Melbourne players were accused by journalist Caroline Wilson of equally inappropriate comments back to the Lions skipper.

Demons star Angus Brayshaw said he felt the Demons ‘dealt really well with [the incident] in the game’, but said the team wouldn’t be drawn into a sledging match with the Lions during the do-or-die clash at the MCG.

“The niggle will be there I am certain, but we’ve done it before, I think we have a really good grasp as a group on how to stick together and not overstep at the mark,” Brayshaw said on SEN on Monday morning, suggesting coach Simon Goodwin would make continuing to toe the line a focus during the week.

“Niggle is not going to win finals… you just have to look at the last time this popped up for us. I don’t think the boys are worrying about it too much.

“I’d be surprised if he [Goodwin] didn’t touch on it at some stage this week, but we have a really clear focus on when to bring it back to so it doesn’t get out of control.”

, Zorko divided opinion by offering only a qualified apology for his sledge on Petty later that week.

“I just reckon it’s really important that Lions fans and fans in general know that it wasn’t just an unprovoked sledge and it wasn’t said in isolation,” Zorko told SEN.

“It was to-ing and fro-ing for the majority of the game, and remorsefully I accept that I’ve overstepped the mark.”

However, Brayshaw refutes the claim that the Demons overstepped the mark either verbally or physically.

“We didn’t overstep the line physically and blokes weren’t trying to line him up,” he said of targeting Zorko in Round 23.

“I feel like the blueprint is there for us as a group to deal with it. We are not trying to dismiss it or avoid it or undersell what Petts [Petty] is going through, but as a group we stick together.

“When the ball is there to be won, you can go at it as hard and fair as you like.”

The Demons have won both their matches against the Lions in 2022 by a combined 122 points.

The winner of their match will face minor premiers Geelong in a preliminary final at the MCG.

Dayne Zorko of the Lions looks dejected after his team's defeat against Melbourne.

(Photo by Albert Perez/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

‘Moving pretty well… for a guy who’s got a broken leg’: Petracca set to play through the pain

Melbourne remain confident star midfielder Christian Petracca will face Brisbane on Friday night, despite scans revealing he suffered a fractured leg in their qualifying final loss to Sydney.

Petracca copped the injury in a collision with Lance Franklin during the first quarter of the match; while he was able to play on, the 2021 Norm Smith Medallist was far from his damaging best in the Demons’ 22-point loss.

However, speaking on Monday morning, teammate Jake Lever expressed confidence that Petracca would be right to take on the Lions despite the setback.

“He was moving pretty well for a guy who’s got a broken leg, but he’s pretty tough, so he’ll play,” Lever said.

“He’s probably been in here since about 6 o’clock… he’s pretty committed. I saw him this morning and he’s looking all right. I’m looking forward to playing with him.

“I think he’ll have a bit of a lighter week. He’ll have to tick off a fair few things, I think – he’s done nearly every session all year.

“At this time of year, maybe a little freshen-up might be good for him.”

Demons football boss Alan Richardson has confirmed the club’s medical department have cleared Petracca to play, with the club more worried about a badly corked calf suffered in the same incident.

Fellow Demon Angus Brayshaw was adamant on SEN his midfield mate would need a far more severe injury to give up his place in the team.

“If I know Christian the way that I think I do, there won’t be any amount of fracture that could keep him off the ground for this game. He’s ready to go,” Brayshaw said.

“Everyone at this point of the year has something that’s not 100 per cent. What’s really strong is our resolve as a group. Everyone is in strong spirits.”

Christian Petracca of the Demons in action.

Christian Petracca of the Demons in action. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Buckley praises McRae’s ‘fantastic’ dig at dejected Pies

Former Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has praised successor Craig McRae’s extraordinary criticism of Collingwood players’ devastated reaction to their qualifying final loss to Geelong.

McRae took issue with the Magpies slumping to the turf following the defeat, saying he wants his players to ‘act like winners’.

“The siren goes and there‘s half a dozen of our guys laying on the ground. For me, that’s not a winner. That’s acting like a loser,” McRae said on Saturday evening following the match.

“We lost the game, we’re not losers. I just made that point.”

Speaking on SEN, Buckley, who coached Collingwood between 2012 and 2021 including their 2018 grand final appearance, praised McRae’s message.

“I think that’s fantastic… it sets an expectation around where they want to be long-term, but clearly it sets up his players that they’re not done yet,” Buckley said.

“If you’re using an analogy of using September being a game of footy, four weeks is a game, and each week is a quarter.

“Collingwood are at quarter-time and they’re just behind on the scoreboard, they’ve lost the game of footy, but they got pipped in the first quarter, they’ve still got three quarters to play if they’re good enough.

“They go into the second quarter, and you don’t lie down there, the challenge is still in front of them, and they’re not done, in a one-season campaign, you’ve still got fight in you and you’re still up and ready to go.”

SEN Breakfast host Garry Lyon couldn’t have agreed more, saying McRae’s comments were ‘the best thing I’ve heard from a coach all year’.

“I absolutely loved it, I’m trying to work out why Collingwood are so good this year under their coach,” Lyon said.

“The message is so clear: don’t feel sorry for yourself, all that is is making it about you and feeling sorry for yourself by lying on the ground.

“Get up, shake your head, shake your hand and let’s get ready for next week. I thought it was magnificent.”

The Magpies take on Fremantle at the MCG in a cutthroat semi final on Saturday night, with the winner to take on Sydney at the SCG for a spot in the grand final.

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