Best 22 analysis: Brisbane

Conor Roar Guru

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    All the AFL lists are finalised for 2018, and now is the time to start investigating into what each club best team looks like.

    This analysis won’t factor in injuries or early season suspension, as they are looking at the best team from the list they have. Here is my view on Brisbane’s best 22 in 2018.

    Previous articles
    Adelaide’s Best 22

    Best 22
    B: Nick Robertson, Harris Andrews, Darcy Gardiner
    HB: Alex Witherden, Daniel McStay, Luke Hodge
    C: Hugh McCluggage, Mitch Robinson, Sam Mayes
    HF: Dayne Zorko, Jake Barrett, Charlie Cameron
    F: Cameron Rayner, Eric Hipwood, Allen Christensen
    Foll: Stefan Martin, Dayne Beams, Jarrod Berry
    I/C: Ryan Bastinac, Daniel Rich, Josh Walker, Lewis Taylor
    Depth: Ben Keays, Tom Bell, Rohan Bewick, Jacob Allison, Cedric Cox, Sam Skinner, Marco Paparone, Liam Dawson, Tom Cutler, Ryan Lester, Rhys Mathieson, Corey Lyons, Archie Smith, Jack Frost, Zac Bailey, Connor Ballenden, Jack Payne, Brandon Starcevich, Toby Wooller, Cian Hanley, Claye Beams, Matt Eagles, Mitchell Hinge, Oscar McInnerney

    Defence
    The Lions defence is young but promising. Nick Robertson is an exciting prospect, and gets in ahead of other options Daniel Rich, Cedric Cox, Tom Cutler, and Jack Frost. Robertson can also get rotated into the midfield, which would have him in the backline to potentially rotate with Hodge, Witherden, Mayes, and Berry.

    Darcy Gardiner will be able to play as a medium defender in the back pocket, who can play on tall or small opposition forwards. Harris Andrews and Daniel McStay take the key position posts in defence.

    McStay is still developing, but looks a really promising prospect. Harris Andrews is a fantastic young leader in defence, and may potentially be a future captain of the club. He takes full back as he is the best key defender on the Lions list. Alex Witherden was an incredibly promising midfielder in nine games last season, and has the half back flank, with rotations through the midfield, made his own spot.

    One of the most valuable recruits of the year, former Hawthorn premiership captain Luke Hodge, will play along the half back line and rotate through the midfield to provide leadership and structure in this young, developing, promising Lions team.

    Hodge-AFL-tall

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Midfield
    The Lions have a promising midfield, filled with experienced players and young, promising players. Stefan Martin, despite being 31 years-old, is still the number one ruckman. However, if he has a natural drop in form this season because of his age, there may be opportunities for younger ruckmen Archie Smith or Oscar McInnerney.

    Dayne Beams is an inside, tough, strong captain for the Lions, so expect him to feature in as many games as he can. Mitch Robinson played only seven games last season due to injury problems. He’ll be hoping to stay on the park next season, and with Hodge coming into the team, Robinson could have a fantastic season if he feeds the right advice off Luke Hodge.

    Jarrod Berry played 16 games last season, and seems likely to get more time as an inside midfielder to develop his game. Hugh McCluggage, the number 3 pick in the 2016 draft, has been placed on the wing, with the potential to be able to rotate in the forward line with Allen Christensen and 2017 All-Australian Dayne Zorko.

    Sam Mayes had a breakout year last year, and would seem the likely choice to play on the other wing given he can also rotate through defence.

    Attack
    I have chosen a small forward line with only one known tall, a similar structure to the Tigers and Dogs premiership teams.

    Eric Hipwood is the lonely starting tall forward at full forward. He’s a young player who has plenty of promise and potential for the Lions. 2017 number one draft pick Cameron Rayner gets a spot in the forward pocket. He showed in the TAC Cup that he has the x-factor and the ability to be able to change a game around off his own boot.

    Dayne Zorko was an All-Australian last year, and is definitely underrated in Melbourne. He deserves much more recognition, and should be rated up there with Patrick Dangerfield.

    Christensen has missed the last season and a half with injury, but should be in the Lions best 22 given he is able to rotate between the forward line and midfield. I have selected Jake Barrett at centre half forward as he played a fantastic role as a forward last season.

    He is the strongest and the tallest of the Lions small forward, hence why I have selected him there. Former Crow Charlie Cameron, who returned home during the off-season, would probably be a starter in the best 22, considering he played in the grand final and contains rare finals experience at Brisbane. He also adds a layer of speed and excitement up forward and on the wing into the future of the Lions team.

    Interchange
    The interchange bench is filled with players mainly aged over 24, except for one. I have done this as they can provide experience as well as rotations throughout the game. Former Roo Ryan Bastinac has played 38 games since flying up north, and found a certain hunger for goals last year with 19 goals in 16 games, meaning he will be able to rotate between all of the inside work, the wing, and the forward flank and pocket.

    Daniel Rich is able to play off the back line and in the midfield which works in his favour to get a spot in the best 22. Josh Walker had a disappointing year statistical wise, not making much of an impact for the team, kicking only nine goals in 11 games. If he fails to fire next year, expect the Lions to potentially drop Walker for a younger, developing player.

    Dan Rich vies for the ball

    (AAP Image/David Crosling)

    Lewis Taylor is another young player who is the future of the Lions team. Expect him to continue to get games like he has in his first three years, having only missed three games since debut.

    The unlucky players
    Ben Keays has played 26 games throughout his first two seasons, and has looked very promising. He is likely to get games throughout the year, but isn’t a guaranteed starter every week yet. Jacob Allison played the final five games of the 2017 season, and will no doubt get games as he’s part of the Lions exciting youth.

    Another youngster Cedric Cox played eight games, including the final six games, but like Allison and Keays, there just isn’t enough space in the team to be a starter. Sam Skinner hasn’t had much luck with injuries, and if he makes a full recovery, he may be able to push for a debut late in the season.

    Ryan Lester is likely to play regular senior games, having only missed three games in the last two seasons, however is not a guaranteed starter with Lions youth and recruits taking his spot in the team. ‘Beast mode’, also known as Rhys Mathieson, will hopefully push for regular senior games next year.

    Archie Smith is not the number one ruckman yet, however Stefan Martin is on the wrong side of 30, and it would not surprise me to see Archie Smith or Oscar McInnerney receive games in 2018. Draftees Zac Bailey and Connor Ballenden seem likely to get a couple of opportunities next year.

    What do you think Roarers? What’s your view on the Lions best 22?