Australian Football Hall of Fame Legend Ron Barassi, pictured in 2014. Picture: AFL Photos

THE LATE Ron Barassi has been eulogised as a legend of the game by the prime minister as he lined up for the Grand Final breakfast ahead of the showdown.

Fans, dignitaries and footy officials gathered at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre for the annual North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast in the lead-up to the game's biggest day of the year.

Anthony Albanese paid tribute to the legendary Barassi, who entered centre stage on Grand Final day 17 times, and his impact after he made the switch to coaching.

"If Ron had retired from footy after winning six flags with the Dees in the '50s and '60s, he'd still be recognised a champion of the game," Mr Albanese said.

"But of course, he went on to revitalise the Blues and then in the '70s took North from wooden spooners to the club's first two premierships."

Tony Lockett and coach Ron Barassi celebrate in the rooms after winning the 1995 AFL pre-season practice match between Hawthorn and Sydney. Picture: AFL Photos

The prime minister recounted the response he observed when the former Melbourne player made the switch to coach Sydney.

"There truly was no bigger name in footy, but Ron never saw himself as bigger than the game," Mr Albanese said.

"He was always thinking about how the game could grow and spread across this great country."

Outgoing AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan received some friendly jibes, but the prime minister also thanked him for his legacy.

"Getting more women and girls involved through AFLW is the biggest revolution that we have seen in this game," he said.

"Getting more Tasmanians involved with their own team - at last - because a healthy competition at the highest level depends on millions of people at the grassroots."

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan and Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles celebrate the new 19th AFL club licence in Tasmania with locals. Picture: AFL Photos

The prime minister thanked the AFL and North Melbourne for their support of the 'yes' vote in the upcoming referendum.

The poll on whether to establish an Indigenous voice to parliament is set for October 14, with early voting to start on Monday.

It's been two decades since Brisbane and Collingwood last faced-off in a Grand Final.

The Magpies are after redemption after the Lions took out their third premiership in a row - and their second consecutive flag against the Pies - the last time they met in the decider.


Mr Albanese didn't pass up an opportunity to bring up past comments by Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who was in attendance sporting a Lions scarf.

"I remember a few years ago you said that the streets of Melbourne were so dangerous that people were afraid of going out to dinner," Mr Albanese said.

"Well, if the Pies win today, you might finally be right about that."

More than 100,000 people are expected to fill the MCG on Saturday for the game's pinnacle event.