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McLachlan lauds 'compelling' AFL grand final narratives


Of the four remaining AFL grand final match-up possibilities, two narratives clearly stand out - and for contrasting reasons.

Carlton-Collingwood is a rivalry older than the league itself, steeped in history and traditions.

Brisbane-GWS represents national expansion from the old VFL, and opportunities for Australian Rules in northern markets.

Unsurprisingly, outgoing AFL boss Gillon McLachlan can't pick a favourite.

"They're both compelling," McLachlan told reporters on Monday.

"Carlton-Collingwood has its own story but Brisbane-GWS is the story of the AFL.

"It's a national competition, it's got expansion, it's got history and growth."

There are other possible outcomes from this week's Collingwood-GWS and Brisbane-Carlton preliminary finals.

Collingwood and Brisbane last met in a grand final 20 years ago, when Leigh Matthews' Lions completed their famous hat-trick of flags.

The two sides have hovered near the top of the ladder all season, while Carlton and GWS have come from a long way back.

The Blues and Giants went on long winning streaks in the second half of the year to claw their way into the top eight.

At the end of the mid-season bye rounds, they occupied positions 14 and 15 on the ladder.

"We're at the stage now where we just want the best couple of teams to win," McLachlan said.

"I don't think the stage can be any better set with the way the prelims are set up, and we're thrilled with the way the season's gone."

GWS have been widely regarded as the AFL's baby since their inception, initially created to tap into a vast population in Sydney's west - rugby league territory.

A Giants premiership, after their 2019 grand final loss, would go some way towards vindicating the AFL for its "generational decision" to invest in the expansion club.

Minor premiers Collingwood present the next hurdle at the MCG on Friday night.

"We'll be sitting here in 30 years time when they're a powerful club like Sydney are," McLachlan said.

"This is a stepping stone in a journey. It's a big game for them on Friday night.

"Whoever wins, there will be two worthy winners and a great grand final."