Melbourne premiership star Angus Brayshaw is “certain” there will be a strong element of verbal warfare when the Demons confront Brisbane in Friday’s semi-final just three weeks after the ugly aftermath to their most recent clash.
But Lions veteran Daniel Rich was adamant teammate Dayne Zorko wouldn’t get sucked in to any trash talk that flares between the two sides.
Brisbane captain Zorko was forced to apologise for a cutting sledge that left Melbourne defender Harrison Petty in tears when the two teams met at the Gabba in the final round of the season.
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No action was taken by the AFL against Zorko, although league boss Gill McLachlan conceded it was “not a good look” and Melbourne players also tried to move on quickly amid suggestions the Demons were as verbally active as their opposition.
Brayshaw was adamant the potential for more sledging was something coach Simon Goodwin would address this week.
But he was confident his teammates did a good job of handling the back-and-forth with the Lions players last time and adamant it wouldn’t distract them from playing the game on their terms when the meet at the MCG.
“It’s something I felt like we dealt really well with in the game, and up to three-quarter time we played strong, hard, but not reckless,” Brayshaw told SEN on Monday.
“We didn’t overstep the line physically and blokes weren’t trying to line (Zorko) up.
“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 and when the ball is there to be won, you can go at it as hard and fair as you like.
“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 was also keen to point out that a verbal assault was not the defining factor in many games.
“Niggle is not going to win finals,” he said.
“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 (coach Simon 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.”
Rich says Zorko will focus on winning the footy, rather than engage in a sledging match.
“He’ll put his head over the ball and let his footy do the talking, can’t really control what the Dees are going to do,” he said on SEN.
“You just have to support the person, support your teammate. You don’t want to get caught up in the fighting nature of it, that’s probably what the opposition wants.
“As players, you just have to put your head over the ball and let your footy do the talking.