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AFLW star Libby Birch savours ‘moment in history’

Fighting for a grand final spot in a historic first AFLW game at the MCG is a double delight for Melbourne’s Libby Birch, who is adamant the competition deserves more games at the home of footy from next season.

And Birch would be more than happy for that next season to begin in August despite some consternation over the players having to back up just four months after the finish of this season.

Birch, an All-Australian in 2020, said the Melbourne players had spoken about not being overawed by the historic moment when they take on reigning premiers Brisbane for a place in the decider.

The 24-year-old conceded it was a moment she never thought possible when she watched the 2009 AFL grand final from the stands and hoped it was the start of more regular MCG fixtures.

“For us it’s going to be about absorbing the week. We enjoy the moment without being overawed but really trying to stay in the moment,” Birch said outside the MCG on Monday.

“I would absolutely love for more round games to be played here, not just finals. I think this is the point where we go we introduce women’s footy to the ’G, and from there on in maybe some double-headers with the men – Collingwood and Melbourne, before or after.

“I feel like this game is more than just a prelim between Melbourne and Brisbane. It’s a chance for all footy fans to get out here and celebrate women’s footy … I truly feel this is the game to do so.”

AFLW officials have flagged the next season would start in August, ahead of the finals in the men’s competition, and despite the short turnaround, Birch said the positives were numerous and threw her support behind the plan.

“I really like an August start, it’s perfect timing, it harmonises the ability to play with the men and then also for us to have a bit of clean air,” she said.

“Then the ability to play in good conditions but also to use the (main) stadiums which we can’t do in summer because of the cricket pitches. I think there’s multiple benefits for us playing in August.

“We want to just play more footy … have more opportunity to play on the best grounds, so I think that’s heading that way.”

Melbourne v Carlton
Camera IconMelbourne’s Daisy Pearce is retiring at the end of the season. Michael Klein Credit: News Corp Australia

The Lions blitzed Collingwood at the Gabba in Brisbane on Sunday and are aiming for their fourth AFLW grand final and back-to-back flags, having beaten Adelaide last year.

Melbourne finished second and is hoping to make its maiden AFLW grand final, repeat the 2021 premiership success of their men’s team and send off retiring superstar Daisy Pearce in style.

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