AAP AFL

Eager Lions ready to rumble with Tigers

By AAP Newswire

As season-ending AFL fixtures go, Sunday's clash between Brisbane and Richmond couldn't be scripted any better.

The Lions are just one game away from capturing a minor premiership - something not even the triple-premiership winning Brisbane teams from the early 2000s achieved.

They can also cement themselves as serious premiership contenders by claiming their first win over the Tigers in 13 games - in front of a packed MCG.

It's a formula that has Brisbane midfielder Hugh McCluggage raring to go.

"It's obviously an awesome preparation for what's to come in finals - at the 'G in front of a big crowd on a Sunday arvo, it doesn't really get much better than that," McCluggage told AAP.

"We're all very, very excited that's for sure."

After last making the finals in 2009, and winning just five matches in each of the past two seasons, the Lions' rise has been the 'feel good' story of the year.

Last weekend's thrilling one-point win over Geelong in front of a capacity crowd at the Gabba was the Lions' ninth victory on the trot.

It's a turnaround that has exceeded all expectations, but McCluggage says for those within the club, it's not quite as surprising as those outside might think.

"It's pretty unbelievable when you look at where we were this time last year but in saying that, we were playing some pretty good footy last year, we just weren't getting over the line in those close games," the 21-year-old said.

"It makes me look at those guys who are a bit older like Richy (Daniel Rich) and Zorks (Dayne Zorko) ... who have been through a lot more than I have.

"I've been lucky enough to come to the club and, yeah we weren't winning games but it was still a very enjoyable place to be around. We had good staff in place and we could see where we were going."

Coach Chris Fagan has named Cedric Cox to replace injured Allen Christensen (hamstring) as the Lions aim once again to buck history.

A round four loss to Essendon at the MCG was Brisbane's only game at the venue so far this year and the Lions have lost their past seven at the 'home of football'.

"We don't get the opportunity to play there very often," McCluggage said.

"We played there earlier this year and obviously didn't play quite as well as we would've hoped.

"We've got a bit of a hoodoo there, but this year we've been able to break a few of them, and we're going to go out there and give it our best shot.

"Try to play how we have been playing the last few weeks and see what can happen."

The Tigers have plenty at stake themselves with a top four finish on the line.

Collingwood's narrow win over Essendon on Friday means Damien Hardwick's men must win to secure a double chance in the finals.

Skipper Trent Cotchin, who has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury, will make a timely return while Jack Ross and Mabior Chol have been axed.

Ruckman Toby Nankervis' absence also means a spot for youngster Noah Balta.