Demons relaxed about AFL finals fate

They’ve conquered the premiers and a bruising interstate trip in the past fortnight but can Melbourne do what’s eluded them so often in the past and win the one they should?

The Demons will know when they walk onto the MCG on Sunday whether they can still play AFL finals football this year.

But it’s not the main game for Melbourne, who feel they’re already ahead of the ledger this season no matter what unfolds in the final fortnight.

Coach Paul Roos has declared 2016 a success regardless and assistant coach Jade Rawlings this week similarly dismissed the idea Melbourne still had something to prove.

“I would have thought that’s been answered in recent times,” he told AAP.

“Hawthorn at the MCG and Port Adelaide in Adelaide … those last two matches were pressure matches.

“We’ve answered most challenges that have come our way this year.

“We’re not really dealing with (finals) because it’s an outcome.

“No doubt it brings a lot of excitement with what’s ahead but there are so many variables that need to unfold first.”

The Demons have made three changes, losing Jeff Garlett to illness while dropping Cameron Pedersen and James Harmes.

In comes young forward Sam Weideman, Alex Neal-Bullen and Viv Michie.

Both Neal-Bullen, 20, and Michie, 24, are examples of the new Melbourne: demanding selection from the reserves.

The pair have played just three AFL matches combined this season but have put their hands up with outstanding displays for the ladder-leading Casey Scorpions.

“It’s been one of the biggest improvements in the footy club,” Rawlings says.

“The depth we have at our list now, players know they need to be performing at VFL level. And most selected have been able to perform at AFL level.”

Jesse Hogan will play despite battling a cold through the week.

Carlton, on a nine-game losing streak, have made one change – Blaine Boekhorst has been omitted in favour of Liam Sumner.

Coach Brendon Bolton said he would be disheartened if his side didn’t bring the same intensity as his finals-chasing opponents.

“We’ve got as much to play for as they have,” he said.

“Melbourne have been in really good form and they’ve still got finals hopes … (but) we’re looking to make sure we improve every game.”

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