Bushfire Relief game hits close to home for star Pie

FRIDAY night's Bushfire Relief double-header will carry extra significance for star Collingwood defender Ash Brazill, after fires came perilously close to her family's property in NSW.

Brazill will be part of the Collingwood side to take on fellow Conference B team Melbourne at Marvel Stadium, with the AFL State of Origin match to follow. 

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"My hometown back in Bargo (100 kilometres south-west of Sydney) was really affected by the fires, a lot of friends and family lost their properties and houses, so to actually be a part of it and mean something more than football is pretty special," Brazill said. 

Pies and Dees primed to play for bushfire relief

00:41 Feb 25. 2020. 6:34 PM

Collingwood's Ash Brazill and Melbourne's Maddi Gay speak ahead of their Friday night clash

"[For] my family, the fires ended up being 500 metres to a kilometre away before the winds changed, so we were extremely lucky. We lost a lot of animals because of the heat. A lot of people don't realise, it's not the fire that kills the animals, it's the heat first, and then the fire wipes everything out. 

"So many of my school friends and family members lost their houses and it's devastating." 

It will be a quick turnaround for Brazill, who is also set to line up for the Australian Diamonds against the Super Netball All-Stars in a fundraiser match on Sunday in Sydney.

Brazill is currently a starting midcourter for the Australian side, combining her netball duties with footy. 

"Play Friday night, fly out Saturday for our Sunday bushfire relief game. That's going to be a massive game, so I'm really excited for that as well," Brazill said. 

"I'm hoping I pull up well (from footy). There's definitely been talks about how much time I'm going to get on court and is it even possible, knowing it's a fundraising game whereas (in) AFLW, you're playing for the premiership. 

"It's still touch-and-go how much (netball) I play, but if I had my way, I'll be playing both 100 per cent." 

Ash Brazill chats with CFA volunteers outside Marvel Stadium on Monday

Collingwood's opponent on Friday night, Melbourne, has also won two out of three matches, with the eventual victors looking to gain a buffer on their fellow Conference member. 

The Demons suffered a surprise loss to expansion side St Kilda last Friday night.

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"We're confident with our game structure and program this year that we'll make a good contest with Collingwood, they're playing some good footy as well," Melbourne midfielder Maddi Gay said. 

"We were quite disappointed with the loss, as you would be, but a short week coming up with a Friday game again, you go over, review and you have to bounce back from it. 

"It's only an eight-game season, you have to do everything you can to make the top three of your conference to get into finals. 

"A game like last Friday could cost us, but hopefully with the rest of the season we'll get some more wins on the board." 

Melbourne's Maddi Gay at a media conference for the AFLW Bushfire Relief game

Gay said she's looking forward to a rare occasion to play at one of the bigger football stadiums available for AFLW footy. 

"With a game like this, you have to embrace [the crowd], you don't often get opportunities like this to play at Marvel Stadium. I'll walk out and take a look, but you have to get focused for the game," Gay said. 

"Most of us girls when we heard it was moving to Marvel for this cause were pretty stoked to be playing against Collingwood as well, [who are also] a big club in the AFL."