Brisbane Lions captain Dayne Zorko says an AFL Grand Final at the Gabba is the ideal platform to entice more Queensland juniors to play Aussie rules.
With the Gabba to be confirmed on Wednesday as the venue for this year’s AFL decider, Zorko predicted a surge in interest in the sport in a rugby league-dominated state.
“When I was a kid coming up at school, I would have been one of maybe four in the entire school that played AFL (or) that even followed AFL,” Zorko told SEN.
“Now the fact that the city of Brisbane will get the Grand Final, I think there’s a real opportunity to grow the game significantly up here.
“My little fella’s going to hit school next year, and I’m hoping by the time he finishes school, he’s not the only one playing AFL and there’s about a couple of hundred that are doing it.”
Zorko said interest had already grown in the sport thanks to that large number of matches that had been played at the Gabba and Gold Coast venue Metricon Stadium this season.
“Even the (crowd) numbers for two interstate teams playing at Metricon, playing at the Gabba … I think that just shows how much the game has grown in southeast Queensland in the past three or four months,” he said.
“The AFL’s done so much up here in southeast Queensland, and it’s continuing to do that.
“I think it’s great that the fans and supporters have come out and really shown how much they love the sport by getting to the games and supporting their teams.”
Zorko also believed that interstate teams being based in Queensland this year would help the Lions and the Gold Coast Suns attract players from all over Australia.
“Sixteen of the 18 AFL teams have had the opportunity to stay here for a large period of time, experience the weather, experience the grounds, so I can’t see why this couldn’t help, whether (to) relocate players or make it enticing for players to want to move and play up here in Queensland,” he said.
Zorko said the Grand Final being played away from its traditional home of the MCG would not detract from the joy and achievement of winning the flag.
“This year’s thrown up many different scenarios and teams have had to be so flexible … I don’t think it would take the gloss off winning or being in a Grand Final,” he said.
“They’re so hard to get to, no matter the state or played where they’re at.”