Brisbane were undoubtedly the darlings of the AFL in 2019, enjoying a meteoric rise from 15th to 2nd after nine seasons out of the top eight.
At the start of the millennium the Brisbane Lions had a grand final winning streak that has not been matched in the AFL.
On-field success has been fleeting over the past decade but if the last two years have taught nothing else, it is that a team can win off the field.
Brisbane are backing up a decade later as the repeat off-season premiers.
It did not look this way some 15 months ago. The club faced an exodus of young talent as they reeled from poor football related appointments and decisions. The club was pushed by a young group and their managers and they responded by grabbing every asset they could.
Those assets would lead to Brisbane assembling what could go down in AFL folklore as the greatest ever draft class by an individual club. The 2013 Brisbane draft class was a win with each of its top six picks.
Six picks inside the top 40 and six picks that have unearthed AFL-calibre players. A lengthy rebuild was turned on its head. Being able to nail that one draft meant the club had gone from hunted to hunter.
That one draft win in 2013 was part of the reason that Brisbane were able to capitalise 12 months later and have a win at the 2014 trade table by adding star midfielders Allen Christensen and Dayne Beams. Over the space of 12 months Brisbane have been able to build the most dynamic, attacking and deep midfield in the league.
With a 2013 draft win and a 2014 trade period win, it is somewhat disappointing that Brisbane were not able to again flex their off-field prowess by nailing another draft. But with a first pick at 44 and not having a live pick until in the 60s, this draft in comparison to the 12 months previous did not have the same stakes on the line.
This was more about the future and ongoing list management, areas that the club has struggled with since its premiership era.
What Brisbane were able to do with their 2014 draft, though, was add local and Tasmanian talent in an effort to build young depth in their depleted areas, namely down back. The move to Tasmanian talent by the two Queensland-based clubs has been an intriguing side plot of the past few draft periods, and it appears that Brisbane are trying to capitalise on the positivity that comes from Tasmania for the Sunshine State.
Indeed, Tasmanian duo Josh Watts and Josh McGuinness appear to answer questions about where Brisbane’s next defenders are coming from. Watts is a tall defender while McGuinness is a medium defender. Both need to add size to their frames for AFL football, but even if one of these two project players can work then Brisbane has added some of that much needed defensive depth.
Apsley duo Liam Dawson and Harris Andrews joined Brisbane through their academy system and again add depth to the defence and ruck of the Brisbane team. Dawson of all picks for Brisbane could be the one that finds his way to the team first, with both an ability to lock down on a defensive opponent or be a dangerous forward option that thrives with defensive pressure.
Andrews is somewhat of a long-term prospect, but given Brisbane’s struggles in the ruck last year at least it gives them an option in a worst case scenario.
Late round picks Jaden McGrath and Josh Clayton finished the draft day for Brisbane. Clayton, as son of renowned list manager Scott, will be an interesting prospect while McGrath seems to be another addition to the mosquito fleet of young midfield forwards that Brisbane have stockpiled.
As nice as it was for Brisbane fans to see questions about their defence answered with project players in the 2014 draft, this was an off-season that Brisbane had already won. For two years in a row, Brisbane have been winners.
One can only feel though that the hype going into the 2015 off-season won’t be what it was when Brisbane headed towards a hat-trick in 2003. Still, Brisbane and winning may be coming back in vogue.