Dreamtime 'really good practice' for grand finals - Edwards

Richmond premiership player Shane Edwards believes marquee games such as Saturday night's Dreamtime at the 'G provide "good practice" for the pressure and intensity of an AFL grand final.

More than 80,000 fans are expected to pack the Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch traditional rivals Richmond and Essendon do battle in what will be the 14th Dreamtime clash.

Edwards, 29, says a lot of similarities can be drawn between the showpiece games of the home and away season and the grand final, both in terms of the build-up and in-game atmosphere.

"It's really good practice because there's a lot of things going on outside the game which also happen at the grand final," Edwards told ESPN. "It's a finals-like atmosphere and it's good practice to make sure you keep your eyes on the game, focus on what your role is, and not worry about anything else.

"We're really lucky [at Richmond] because we get to play Anzac Eve and we get the Dreamtime game.

"At the end of the day the game is played no differently, there's just a lot more buzz and feel about it. It's just a special day."

It certainly helped Richmond last year. The Tigers won both their Anzac Eve and Dreamtime matches before snapping a 37-year premiership drought when they thrashed Adelaide by 48 points in the grand final. Damien Hardwick's side also won all eight games last year where the crowd figure reached 60,000 and have continued on that form this season, sitting second with an 8-2 record.

While the Dreamtime clash provides a great opportunity to prepare for September, its main focus is to recognise and celebrate Australia's Indigenous culture. Edwards, one of 29 Indigenous players to reach the 200 game milestone, said it was an honour to once again be involved in the event.

"Along with all the things outside of the sirens, it really highlights all the past and present Indigenous players that have made the game what it is today," Edwards told ESPN. "It's something special that makes you feel very proud, especially now that we have got six Indigenous kids [at Richmond].

"There were a few years there where I was the only one and I felt a little bit lonely out there."

A win on Saturday evening could see Richmond regain top spot on the AFL ladder while Essendon can jump to within one win of the top eight with a victory.