Melbourne’s so-called “meat club” enjoyed their BBQ lunch together in Perth on Saturday, but the Demons know the real heat of the season will come against Geelong on Friday night when they seek their first grand final appearance in more than 20 years.
Tom McDonald, having reinvigorated his career on a steak diet, and skipper Max Gawn led the sit-down, having found a butcher online who could deliver wagyu beef to the Demons’ Joondalup Resort.
The Demons were understandably in the mood for a good feast, having completed a willing practice match at the West Coast Eagles’ training base on Friday, where the likes of former skipper Nathan Jones, Jayden Hunt, Jake Melksham, Aaron vandenBerg and Michael Hibberd continued to push for a recall.
They are a settled unit heading into the knockout clash at Optus Stadium, with defender Joel Smith possibly the only position under the spotlight. Brisbane small forward Charlie Cameron booted four goals in last weekend’s qualifying final in Adelaide, but Demons’ general manager AFL performance Alan Richardson pointed out on Saturday two were from stoppages when Smith was not manned on Cameron.
Refreshed by a weekend off, Richardson, the former St Kilda coach, said the Demons could yet retain an unchanged side. He said Smith was an “exceptional athlete” and “fundamentally, philosophically, we like the way the team is playing”.
“We like the versatility in the team. We are always looking to get better. We will look at the opposition, but we clearly are not going to make a lot of change, if any,” Richardson said.
“We like stability. Our method is very much based on system and one of the important parts of a system-based team is synergy and continuity.”
Richardson said 302-game veteran Jones, who has not played at the senior level since round 15, has displayed “strong form, but he understands where it all sits”.
“We like the way the team is performing, we are not looking to make a lot of change, but we know if an opportunity arises, he has certainly done everything he can,” he said.