Brisbane Lions player Dayne Zorko meets fans ahead of the grand final.
Brisbane Lions' Dayne Zorko greets fans as the Queensland capital enjoys a monumental sporting week. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS
  • Australian rules football

Brisbane’s AFL, NRL sides aim for historic double act

Murray Wenzel September 29, 2023

Dayne Zorko has hailed the Brisbane Lions’ ability to hold their own alongside the Brisbane Broncos as both sides head south to play for AFL and NRL titles.

It’s been a monumental sporting week in the Queensland capital, the two team’s hosting preliminary finals on the same day for the first time and now hunting silverware at grand finals in what would be a historic double act.

The Broncos have won six titles – 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2006 – while the Lions won three straight between 2001-03.

They’ve both lost grand finals since their last triumph but never made a decider in the same season.

And the city of Brisbane has embraced the occasion, thousands turning out to open training sessions and flooding the streets in their mutual maroon.

The Lions, who left for Melbourne on Thursday, will have first crack against Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday before the Broncos face two-time defending premiers Penrith in Sydney on Sunday night.

If they both win, they’ll hold Brisbane celebrations at their home bases simultaneously on Monday, before their paths potentially collide over a beer later in the evening.

“Charlie (Cameron) will sort something out,” Zorko said, after a long pause, when asked if their Mad Monday celebrations would combine.

Like Gold Coast product Zorko, Cameron is a Queenslander, raised in Mornington Island before heading to Brisbane for school and earning his AFL start with Adelaide.

The star small forward tried rugby league, rugby union, Australian Rules and baseball at school and is a Melbourne Storm fan, but has befriended some of the Broncos’ biggest stars who have attended his games.

Brisbane-raised co-captain Harris Andrews is a Lions Academy product, so too Sunshine Coast key forward Eric Hipwood.

The Lions averaged a crowd of more than 30,000 in 13 unbeaten Gabba games this season, almost double (16,445) the numbers they attracted in their 2017 wooden spoon campaign.

“The support all year’s been amazing; the sell-outs at the Gabba, I don’t remember the club having this many,” Zorko said.

“And good luck to the Brisbane Broncos too. Unreal, I wish Kev (Walters) and Adam Reynolds the best.”

Hipwood wasn’t taking Australian rules seriously until he “got something in the mail” from the Lions Academy after impressing in school football.

“AFL was sort of irrelevant, it wasn’t a thing,” Hipwood told AAP of his experience when he moved from Melbourne with his family as a three-year-old.

“I was playing any sport under the sun, even netball just to get out of class.

“Mum and dad said, ‘Maybe you should start taking it seriously’ when I got something in the mail.

“Now you look at how many of us (Queenslanders) are on the list.”