BRISBANE captain Dayne Zorko is out of Thursday night's blockbuster against Melbourne, with coach Chris Fagan confirming the veteran had not overcome his hamstring strain.
Zorko suffered the injury in the round 13 win against St Kilda, and despite training strongly in the Lions' main session on Tuesday will not take his place in the 23.
The Lions skipper said he would use his enforced break to prepare his body for a big finish to the season in pursuit of premiership glory.
"I trained really well (on Tuesday) and thought I was a really big opportunity to play but unfortunately it hasn't eventuated," Zorko said.
"A top of the table clash is a game that I would've loved to have been a part of but that's just the way it is.
"I certainly don't need to be taking any risks at this time of year."
Zorko had a small procedure to repair an Achilles issue in February but returned to play each of the Lions' first 13 home-and-away games.
The 33-year-old said he will be "certainly right to go" against the Western Bulldogs at the Gabba in round 16.
"With this little setback it's been nice to just shut the body down for a couple of weeks and get in a really good, solid block of training and get back to moving how I was in previous years," Zorko said..
"That's been a really encouraging sign for me over the last three or four days.
"The extra nine days heading into the Bulldogs game will do me the world of good as well."
Speaking at Brisbane Airport on Wednesday morning, Fagan was tight-lipped on Zorko's replacement, but was confident the 33-year-old would return the following week.
"He was close, but I think it's best to give him a rest, take the opportunity of the bye plus another week," Fagan said.
"Yesterday at training, the running he was doing, I thought he was moving as well as I've seen him move. I was pretty buoyed by that.
"It may not hurt him just to have this little break and then launch for the last eight games of the season.
"That's what I'm hoping for, and on the evidence I saw yesterday, I think that could well be the case."
Zorko will be one of at least two changes, with Darcy Gardiner also to miss after spending time in hospital following the win over the Saints with fluid on his lungs.
Fagan said he expected the "best version" of Melbourne after the premier suffered three straight losses before its bye.
The match has extra significance for the Lions, who will be trying to break an eight-year drought at the MCG.
"We're certainly looking forward to the opportunity (to play there)," Fagan said.
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"The last time we played there was round one of 2020, which by half-time the competition had been cancelled.
"It was a weird day. An empty MCG just didn't feel right.
"It'd be good to do it (win) if we do it.
"If we can't, we'll just wait for another opportunity, it's as simple as that.
"There's been all these hoodoos we've been able to overcome, this is just another one, another step in our journey.
"Hopefully we can do it, but it's a 50-50 bet at the moment, they're a good side."