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The Stats File: Christensen starts again

Allen Christensen will return to the scene of his greatest football triumph tomorrow looking to hit the start button on 2019. 

After missing the opening three rounds of the season following an injury-disrupted preparation, Christensen will play his first game of the year against Essendon at the MCG from 2.10pm.

Going on 28 and set for his 121st career game, the highly-regarded member of the Lions leadership team will rank 7th in games and 6th in age in the Lions side but in some ways he will feel more like a rookie.

In 55 games in Brisbane colors Christensen has battled through a 10-45 win/loss record.  And he has never won at the MCG as a Lion.

It must seem like a lifetime and more since as a 20-year-old in his 19th AFL game he won a premiership at the ‘G’ with Geelong in 2011.

As the second-youngest member of a Geelong side which contained only four members of the current Geelong side - Joel Selwood, Tom Hawkins, Harry Taylor and Mitch Duncan - Christensen had 15 disposals and three tackles in a 38-point grand final win over Collingwood.

He looked set for a long and fruitful career with the Cats before, after 65 games in four years, he surprised the football world when he requested a trade to Brisbane.

Christensen’s career in Brisbane started with playing every game of 2015 and precisely the first half of 2016. He missed precisely the second half of 2016 and all of 2017 through injury, before playing every game last year.

Tomorrow’s visit to the MCG will be the first of only two for the Lions this year. They will also play Richmond at headquarters in Round 23.

And given that it is the home of football, it is a key part of the overall development program of a young Lions side that hasn’t won at the MCG since Rounds 21 2014, losing their last seven visits.

Oscar McInerney will play his first game at the MCG tomorrow in a side which, in Brisbane colors, boasts a collective 6-86 record at the ground.

Only Dayne Zorko (1-8), Darcy Gardner (1-5), Dan McStay (1-6), Daniel Rich (2-1-13) and Stefan Martin (1-9) have won at the MCG as a Lion, with Zorko, Gardiner, McStay and Martin playing in the last side to win there against Collingwood in Round 21 2014.

It was a day club fans will remember well. Jono Freeman kicked a career-best four goals in his second game as Zorko (36 possessions), Tom Rockliff (43) and Pearce Hanley (34) took the Brownlow Medal votes. Martin had an equal career-high 32 possessions.

On their last visit to the MCG in Round 4 last year the Lions were embarrassed by Richmond, kicking 2-5 (17) to equal the Club's all-time low set against Hawthorn in 1988 and lose by 93 points.

Sixteen members of the same side – all except McInerney, McStay and Rich plus newcomers Lachie Neale, Jarryd Lyon and Lincoln McCarthy - will be back tomorrow on a clear mission to make amends.

In their last four games against Essendon the Lions have enjoyed a 2-2 split, but curiously the away team has won each time.

Last year it was Essendon by 22 points at the Gabba, in 2017 it was Brisbane by eight points at Marvel Stadium and Essendon by 27 points at the Gabba, and in 2016 it was Brisbane by 37 points at Marvel.

Despite the Lions’ 3-0 start to the season and Essendon’s 1-2 beginning the Bombes, coming off an 18-point win over Melbourne after a 72-point loss to GWS in Round 1 and an 11-point loss to St.Kilda in Round 2, will start slight favorites.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs