Demons ready for 'big stage' after 2022 finals failure

Melbourne are ready to embrace the "big stage" of a qualifying final showdown against minor premiers Collingwood at a sold-out MCG.

Famous rivals during the 1950s and early 1960s, the Demons and Magpies will meet in a final for the first time since 1989 when they open the post-season on Thursday night.

The teams will have to contend with wet and cold weather (potential hail) but the Pies have not been deterred by the forecast and have picked both of their ruckmen, Mason Cox and Darcy Cameron in the squad of 23.

Melbourne will be boosted in attack by the return of premiership forward Tom McDonald, a game after getting Bayley Fritsch back from a foot injury.

The Demons are determined to perform in finals on the MCG after bowing out in straight-sets on their home ground in defeats to Sydney and the Brisbane Lions last year.

After breaking their 57-year premiership drought with victory in the 2021 grand final in Perth, Melbourne want to hold up the cup in front of their own supporters.

"We’ve experienced a lot of wet weather footy this year and a lot of slippery conditions," Goodwin said.

"We feel like our games improved in those conditions.

"We feel like we’re well prepared as a coaching group and playing group to take on those conditions.

"Finals footy is different, it's going to be contest based no matter what the weather looks like and we'll just adapt to whatever's in front of us."

Two-time Collingwood best-and-fairest winner Brodie Grundy won't face his former club with the Demons opting to stick with captain Max Gawn as their sole ruckman.

Grundy will likely move to Port Adelaide next year, his third club in as many seasons, as he seeks to reclaim a spot as a No.1 ruck.

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