Catch up on Jon Pierik’s read on Collingwood from during the week:

Collingwood are seeking energy, pace and hunger to reinvigorate their ageing line-up ahead of Thursday night’s grand-final rematch against Brisbane at the Gabba.

As coaching great Leigh Matthews questioned why the winless Magpies are playing “without a great deal of energy”, adding that they were not a “great” premiership side last year, it’s emerged that five of their midfielders from last season have slipped in key statistical areas, including average tackle counts.

READ the full story HERE

Brisbane Lions playmaker Lachie Neale.

Brisbane Lions playmaker Lachie Neale.Credit: Getty Images

Collingwood’s Tom Mitchell.

Collingwood’s Tom Mitchell.Credit: Getty Images

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan.

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan.Credit: Getty Images

They topped the ladder and played off in an epic season decider last year, but both Brisbane and Collingwood enter Thursday’s grand final rematch at the Gabba without a win in 2024. Here are five of the big questions that hang over that must-win match.

What’s gone wrong with the winless Magpies and Lions?

For the Magpies, plenty. Coach Craig McRae has been happy with few, if any, phases of his team’s performances in losses to Greater Western Sydney, Sydney and St Kilda. They have looked slow and disjointed, with the spotlight on their seasoned veterans, notably Scott Pendlebury, 36, and Steele Sidebottom, 33. The dual premiership greats made rare mistakes against the Saints, prompting Lions great Jonathan Brown to question whether “father time” had caught up with Pendlebury.

In the spotlight: Scott Pendlebury was an important player on grand final day against Brisbane; now his future has become a hot topic.

In the spotlight: Scott Pendlebury was an important player on grand final day against Brisbane; now his future has become a hot topic.Credit: Getty Images

For the Lions, their inability to hold on after establishing what should have been match-winning leads has become a concern. They squandered a 46-point lead against Carlton in the opening round – ultimately losing by a point – and, having booted the opening four goals, conceded an eight-goal run against Fremantle, losing by 23 points at Optus Stadium. The message for the Magpies is clear – don’t be disheartened if the Lions start well.

Click here for the full match preview.

Carlton will welcome back Jacob Weitering and Caleb Marchbank while handing a debut to Elijah Hollands for their Good Friday clash with North Melbourne.

Weitering missed the start of the season as he finalised his recovery from a calf injury while Hollands makes his Blues debut after the former Gold Coast player served a two-game illicit drugs ban.

Lachie Young, Brodie Kemp (both omitted) and David Cuningham (injured) make way for the newcomers. North Melbourne will go in unchanged from last round.

Essendon have received a boost to their midfield with Darcy Parish to return from a hamstring injury while Jake Kelly returns from illness and Mason Redman from suspension.

St Kilda have added Dan Butler, Anthony Caminiti and former cricket and basketball star Angus Hastie, a 190-centimetre rebounding defender, who will make his debut after being pick 33 in last year’s AFL draft.

Melbourne have called in Taj Woewodin for injured defensive ace Steven May for their clash with Port Adelaide in Adelaide while Jake Lever has been named in the side despite leaving the field with a knee injury last game.

Tom McDonald looks poised to take May’s role in defence, a role he filled once May was forced from the game last round.

Port Adelaide have recalled Jed McEntee for Dylan Williams (omitted).

Richmond have regained defender Nathan Broad and lost James Trezise to injury for Sunday’s clash with Sydney Swans at the MCG on Sunday.

The Swans will be without Harry Cunningham after he suffered a concussion last round while Sam Wicks has been omitted, both the Tigers and Swans have named extended benches so will finalise their teams over the weekend.

The West Coast Eagles who have named veteran midfielder Andrew Gaff for their extended bench for the clash with the Western Bulldogs but the Eagles have yet to name any outs.

Bulldogs star Jack Macrae has also been named on the extended bench so whether he earns a senior recall won’t be known until later in the weekend when teams are finalised.

Adelaide have added James Borlase and Lachie Sholl for their Friday night clash with Fremantle at Optus Stadium with Sam Berry (omitted) and Jordan Butts (injured) out but the Dockers are unchanged.

Catch up on Jon Pierik’s read on Collingwood from during the week:

Collingwood are seeking energy, pace and hunger to reinvigorate their ageing line-up ahead of Thursday night’s grand-final rematch against Brisbane at the Gabba.

As coaching great Leigh Matthews questioned why the winless Magpies are playing “without a great deal of energy”, adding that they were not a “great” premiership side last year, it’s emerged that five of their midfielders from last season have slipped in key statistical areas, including average tackle counts.

READ the full story HERE

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan can’t recall a worse start to a season when it comes to his club losing three players to season-ending knee injuries.

Along with the ACL injuries to Tom Doedee and Keidean Coleman, young gun midfielder Will Ashcroft is also recovering from an ACL tear and won’t return for the Lions until later in the season.

Harris Andrews of the Lions leads the team from Optus Stadium after a loss to Fremantle.

Harris Andrews of the Lions leads the team from Optus Stadium after a loss to Fremantle. Credit: Getty Images

“He (Doedee) has been in full training for six or seven weeks,” Fagan told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday.

“We were looking forward to having him as part of our team, but unfortunately that’s not going to be the case this year.

“The last 10 rounds of footy we’ve played, we’ve lost three blokes (Doedee, Coleman and Ashcroft) with ACLs.

“I’ve never seen a strike rate like that. I hope it stops. This is the game, you’ve got to deal with it.”

Doedee on Monday said his knee had given him no trouble during Saturday’s VFL return.

“This time I feel stronger. I feel a lot more mature and a better athlete … and have a better sense of the game after having a year out,” he said.

“The knee felt good, back out with the boys, and it was just overall a good feeling after a pretty long and arduous 10 months.”

The Lions copped a brutal opening-round blow when they coughed up a big lead to lose by one point to Carlton, Coleman’s own season-ending ACL tear compounding the pain.

They were then outplayed in Perth by Fremantle and, after a bye, face premiers Collingwood (0-3) on Thursday, with both sides seeking their first win of the season.

Fagan admitted he would be “amazed” if the Lions weren’t back to their best to confront the team they lost to by four points in last September’s decider.

“It’s probably human nature when you lose a grand final by not much, that all you can think about is getting back there and trying to make up for it,” he said.

“Our players aren’t ill-disciplined or poor human beings for thinking that way, it’s natural.

“Whether that’s good enough to win, who knows, because it’s two good teams playing each other in the same position.”

AAP

After leaving out Steele Sidebottom (managed), Collingwood have also chosen Jack Crisp as the sub.

See the teams as they’re named HERE

Good evening.

Welcome to our coverage of the AFL grand final re-match – the clash between reigning premiers Collingwood and Brisbane Lions .… who, this season, boast ZERO wins between them. Goodness me.

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