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Gawn and Melbourne Demons Await as Big O Enters Brisbane Lions’ Record Books

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The Brisbane Lions are gearing up to face Melbourne Demons, with ruckman Oscar McInerney set to create club history at the Gabba, playing his 140th AFL game for the Lions. This milestone surpasses triple premiership ruckman Clark Keating’s record, marking McInerney as the most-capped among a distinguished list that includes inaugural Bears captain Mark Mickan from 1987.

Former Brisbane captain Tom Rockliff emphasized the importance of targeting Melbourne’s Max Gawn, McInerney’s counterpart in the centre bounce, urging the Lions to neutralize Gawn’s influence on the game.

“The Demons will be fired up,” Rockliff told AAP, referring to Melbourne’s recent close call against North Melbourne. “They don’t look the same team; their top-end talent is showing signs of decline, especially without Christian Petracca.”

Reflecting on McInerney’s upcoming challenge against Gawn, Lions coach Chris Fagan highlighted the pivotal role this matchup has played in McInerney’s growth.

“Oscar has shown remarkable development,” Fagan commented. “Facing Max Gawn, the best in the business, will be a significant test.”

McInerney, a draft steal from the VFL’s reserve grade, has evolved into a key player since his debut, showcasing his skills with a career-best performance against Port Adelaide last Saturday.

Fagan noted McInerney’s tendency to set high standards for himself, which has been both a strength and a challenge throughout his career.

“He’s his harshest critic, always striving for improvement,” Fagan remarked. “But he’s starting to acknowledge his achievements, which is a positive sign.”

Ahead of the clash, Melbourne welcomes back Jake Lever but will miss Christian Salem due to a knee injury. Meanwhile, Lions midfielder Will Ashcroft returns from a long-term knee injury, boosting the team’s lineup against the Demons.