AFL draft analysis: Brisbane Lions

Maddy Friend Columnist

By Maddy Friend, Maddy Friend is a Roar Expert

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22 Have your say

    Brisbane has the luxury of the coveted number one draft pick for 2018, but with some key players missing from next year’s side, how they approach the draft will be critical to the ongoing rebuild of their list.

    Draft picks: 1, 15, 18, 40, 44, 52, 93
    Out: Tom Rockliff, Josh Schache
    In: Luke Hodge, Charlie Cameron

    The ins speak for themselves. Charlie Cameron will add talent and pace to a forward line crying out for some class and may release Allen Christensen to play in the midfield, while Luke Hodge’s experience will be invaluable for the Lions’ young backline. Even if he plays only 13 or so games for the year, his presence on and off the field will accelerate the team’s development.

    The fact that the Lions managed to lure Hodge to the club is testament to the good work Chris Fagan has done since beginning as coach at the start of the season, and the list the Lions have managed to assemble over the past few years is a huge coup for a club that has struggled for relevance over the past few seasons.

    Losing Tom Rockliff will be difficult in the short term for the club’s young midfield, but in the long term it will give the club’s younger players a chance to develop. With Dayne Beams and Dayne Zorko in great form this year, Rockliff’s loss should be mitigated somewhat.

    It’s probably too early to tell how Schache’s loss will affect the team given his limited exposure over the past few years. Clearly losing a key position player is always difficult, but it was a strange situation, and the club did well to facilitate a trade at the last minute with few suitors originally coming forward. His departure means Eric Hipwood will be the sole focus up forward, and he looks to be a future star.

    The Lions also did a pick swap with Richmond, changing their picks 20 and 25 for pick 15. This was a good move for both parties, with Richmond getting more points to cover taking Patrick Naish as a father-son selection while Brisbane managed to shoot up the draft order, which worked out well considering the club traded pick 12 for Cameron.

    (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    What they need
    Schache’s loss might see the Lions look for a key forward with one of their picks, while their list overall still has holes that need addressing. They clearly need more midfield depth, while some class at half back and among the small forwards would also be on the list.

    Who they might consider
    The luxury of pick 1 should not be understated. Any of Cam Rayner, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Adam Cerra or Paddy Dow would be worthy selections. Rayner would begin as a half-forward but will push into the midfield in time and is the draft’s game-changer. He has X-factor and the potential to be an extremely special player.

    Davies-Uniacke is a pure no-fuss midfielder who would be an ideal like-for-like replacement for Rockliff. Cerra would also add class and polish, while Dow is the complete package with pace, toughness and skill.

    At pick 15 Charlie Constable would be a good choice. He’s not a flashy player but is more in the mould of Jarrod Berry, who the Lions picked up last year. He’s a solid citizen and will slot straight into the team.

    Hunter Clark is likely to be gone, but his pace and precision kicking would be a great addition, while Lochie O’Brien is another midfielder/half-back with pace who could be considered.

    If Jack Higgins is available, he’d also be a great choice as a small forward. He is one of the most professional players in the draft – much has been written about his willingness to go the extra mile in his training – and would be the perfect crumbing forward, a player the Lions currently lack.

    The same players are likely to be available at pick 18 but, depending on who they select earlier, the Lions may also choose to go for a more speculative pick here – Sam Hayes could fit if they decide they’d like to develop a ruckman, while Ed Richards would be a great choice as a classy half-back/midfielder. Jarrod Brander would also be a good fit as a key position prospect.

    Draft and trade strategy
    This will be another year of rebuilding for the Lions, and they’ve done well to keep three picks in the top 20 after losing pick 12 in the Cameron trade.

    Given the state of its list, the club looks likely to continue down this route for a few more years and will be looking to continue the recent drafting success they’ve had, with last year’s crop looking particularly promising.

    The Lions need to maximise their first three picks and will also hope to land a few good players at picks 40 and 44 – they may look to take a few mature-aged players to complement their young list.

    Picks 15 and 18 will be interesting, as they will need to wait to see if anyone they like falls to them, particularly if Richmond is forced to match a bid for Patrick Naish at pick 17, and they may be forced to reach for someone if they think the Bulldogs or Richmond could pounce at 16 or 17.

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • November 11th 2017 @ 9:16am
      Mick_Lions said | November 11th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

      Good write up Maddy.

      I think the availability of another decent mid like Constable at pick 15 gives the Lions the flexibility to take Rayner at pick 1.

      I was thinking Dow or LD-U at 1 as they are readymade for the midfield but with those extra top 20 picks Rayner just can’t be overlooked.

      They have academy prospects Connor Ballanden and Jack Payne that will probably be picked up after that. Ballanden is a key position player so will hopefully cover Schache’s loss.

      I think they paid overs for Cameron but glad to have him on board and if he can kick 30 goals then they’ll win more games next year.

      Getting Hodge was a major coup for the club.
      His experience, culture and leadership will accelerate the development of the entire playing list and he will hopefully stick around as an assistant coach to drive the club into finals.

    • November 11th 2017 @ 10:56am
      Ditto said | November 11th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

      My unqualified opinion is that Dow will be taken at pick 1, pace and versitility strikes me as a perfect fit for Brisbane. None of Clarke, Constable, Higgins or Brander will still be live come pick 15, O’Brien is a chance, Noah Balta might be there and he’s the one I’d take if there. Given that pick 18 is their 3rd dip, they’re in good position to take Sam Hayes, then use points from subsequent picks to take Ballenden. If I was a Brisbane fan, I’d be fairly upbeat about their prospects, I know that their young talent gets more exposure than if those kids where on another list, but I like the look of all their junior talent, I hope they all stick with the club.

      • November 11th 2017 @ 3:45pm
        Mick_Lions said | November 11th 2017 @ 3:45pm | ! Report

        I’ve thought Dow would be a great pick too and i wont be surprised if the Lions take him or LD-U. But with Cameron coming in the list already has plenty of pace: Cox, Allison, Zorko, Taylor, Hipwood.
        A game breaker of Reyners potential is worth the punt. And if he reaches it he’ll put bums on seats too. Its really a choice of the next Dusty, JPK or Josh Kelly. Cant go wrong really

    • November 11th 2017 @ 2:50pm
      Carl said | November 11th 2017 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

      Let’s hope for the Lions that they choose wisely. We need all the assistance we can get. The club needs stability then improvement. Hopefully the good youngsters will stay. That’s a BIG IF though.

      • November 11th 2017 @ 3:34pm
        Mick_Lions said | November 11th 2017 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

        The inclusion of Hodge should fix all that.
        There were some great photos after the Hawks ’15 flag of the players holding up fingers of the flags they had won. Lots of 3’s but there was a core group that got together that all held up 4.
        Hodge will instill in the young group that sticking together will breed success.
        McCluggage is the last key signing they need to lock away their future.

        • November 11th 2017 @ 4:25pm
          Crowbot said | November 11th 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

          I’m a little less convinced about the Hodge move. When he was miked up for the Adelaide game this year, there was a point when he went off at Tom Mitchell about where he thought Mitchell should have been positioned at a stoppage, Mitchell gave him a look that suggested that he wasn’t overly appreciative of the advise being given. This isn’t a club that he’s won 4 premierships playing for and I think he needs to be careful about to whom and how much advise he’s dishing out, especially if he can’t cut it in the playing stakes. That moment in the 2016 final series when Bontempelli made him look foolish marked the end for Hodge as a player, I know The Bont can do that to anyone, but Hodge isn’t just anyone. In 2017 if you had no knowledge of his history you would have said that his best attribute as a player was that he was trying hard. Is that enough ?

          • November 11th 2017 @ 5:03pm
            Mick_Lions said | November 11th 2017 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

            It was Mitchell’s first year at the club.
            Where did he place in the BnF?
            Was that because Hodge showed him how to do it?

            That play of Bonts was totally awesome by the way!!
            There’s a reason that kid is a superstar.
            I wonder if Bob Murphy told him to do that?

            • November 11th 2017 @ 6:42pm
              dave said | November 11th 2017 @ 6:42pm | ! Report

              That play of Bont was awesome and although there were many moments during the Dogs final series that one sticks out for me.
              I believe that there is not much separating the top teams and it all comes down to a certain contest in a pressure final with one player stepping up and taking control.Hodge has been one of the best at this and i also believe its the reason Hawks won 4.

              • November 11th 2017 @ 6:59pm
                Mick_Lions said | November 11th 2017 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

                For me, the last few flags have been won by the entire playing group having that unyielding belief they can win it.
                Generally inspired by the coach but Murphy definitely helped the Dogs.

                And, Special moments like the Bonts. Or Cotchins kamikaze tackle for a turnover. Or Cyril Rioli’s first quarter. Or Hodge’s whole game in ’08.

                Buy in from the group and 100% commitment is the key to the flag but you definitely need moments of genius from champions.

          • Roar Guru

            November 13th 2017 @ 10:30am
            Penster said | November 13th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

            Hodge and Fagan were lynch pins in the coaching and development of Hawthorn through 4 premierships. Hard to see either acquisition being less than good news for Brisbane, and I think you need to consider them as a team; but not sure how can you “read” anything into a look on a footy field …… TMitch came 1st, Hodge came 3rd in the club’s B&F this year, Hodge’s best is well behind him, but he does have substantial, recent credibility and if he can impart a skerrick of leadership to the cohort, it’ll be worth it. Certainly won’t be the bust that Ablett was at Gold Coast.

    • November 11th 2017 @ 6:43pm
      Slane said | November 11th 2017 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

      I’m not sure where this idea that an over-the-hill champion from another team can magically make your club better in a season came from. Did it work for the Eagles or the Demons? Good luck to the Lions next season. Hope we can hear them roar.

      • November 12th 2017 @ 7:49am
        David C said | November 12th 2017 @ 7:49am | ! Report

        Mitchell at the Eagles was a completely different scenario, they were going all in for the flag. Totally misguided as playing Mitchell and Priddis unbalanced the team. Hodges role is very clear. If his form drops off I don’t think he’ll play.

        • November 12th 2017 @ 8:17am
          Mick_Lions said | November 12th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

          Thats dead on the money.
          Hodge’s role is to teach structure, positioning, culture and attitude.
          He’s not there to win games.
          He will inspire confidence and competitiveness.
          The results won’t show straight away but by mid 2019 the Lions will be a very hard team to play against.

          • November 12th 2017 @ 9:02am
            Slane said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:02am | ! Report

            What are you basing this on, Mick? Is there some history of this sort of move working? Some evidence or anecdote or logical train of thought?

            Luke Hodge knows Hawthorn’s structures and positioning. Are Brisbane trying to play like Hawthorn? They lack the footskills, left footers and hardness at the ball.

            You might be able to argue that just having a 4 time premiership player there telling the other players that they are just as good as the Hawks might give them a self-confidence boost. But surely you could just recruit any ex-player for that.

            • November 12th 2017 @ 1:33pm
              Mick_Lions said | November 12th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

              I’m basing this on Hodge not just being your average 4 premiership player. He was captain for 3 of those flags and led by example on and off the field.
              I’m basing it on him having a very strong bond with Fagan having seen him as a mentor since 2010. They have very open and honest lines of communication.
              I’m basing it on his ability to adapt and master every knew game plan Clarkson threw his way.
              I’m basing it on the vast improvement of the Hawks young backline as the 2017 season wore on and his role in that.
              I’m basing it on the impressionable kids in the Lions backline who will lap up everthing he says.

              As examples i would cite Stevie J and Heath Shaw at GWS, James Kelly at the Bombers.
              I’m not sure if Burgoyne and Lake coming to the Hawks count. But they fulfilled the roles they were recruited for to great success.

              I’m not expecting the Lions to suddenly burst in to finals but i do believe Hodge will leave a lasting mark on all and sundry.

            • Roar Guru

              November 13th 2017 @ 10:40am
              Penster said | November 13th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

              You’re forgetting that Chris Fagan and Luke Hodge are a highly successful team and Brisbane will play however Fagan, the senior coach tells them to, no? FWIT, Luke Hodge is hard at the ball, excellent disposal, and a left footer …….

        • November 12th 2017 @ 9:03am
          Slane said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

          ‘playing Mitchell and Priddis unbalanced the team’

          That is your subjective opinion. Objectively, the numbers say otherwise.

    • November 11th 2017 @ 9:52pm
      Stephen said | November 11th 2017 @ 9:52pm | ! Report

      Football clubs are no different to any organisation. Ultimately its about allocating limited resources in the most efficient and effective way. From what I am told – Rockcliff and Schache were high maintenance and a far greater drain on resources than you might expect from two players on a list of 40. Conversely, Hodge and Cameron, will give more than they take. Lions on the rise again. Stay tuned.

      • November 11th 2017 @ 11:36pm
        George said | November 11th 2017 @ 11:36pm | ! Report

        Could you elaborate on ‘greater drain on resources’ in case of Rockcliff? Just curious what could be additional resources? He was settled in Brisbane. I would understand with Schache. Rockcliff was very good last year and showed courage by playing with injured shoulder for almost a half season. Brisbane will miss him unless Christensen and Mitch Robinson will come back strong from injuries. Young players are still not there, a couple of injuries to experience players could spell a trouble. Hodge is great source of experience/advice, not sure about his on field effort. He actually could be a bit liability as he slowed down significantly.

        • November 12th 2017 @ 12:04am
          Stephen said | November 12th 2017 @ 12:04am | ! Report

          Yes George. From what I understand – during Rockliff’s captaincy and further drifting into 2017 – there were several/ongoing mediation sessions between Rockliff, various team mates and club management. All in a bid to resolve certain conflicts. And to Rockcliff’s credit, he admitted to be a divisive personality. But, that certainly required some work on behalf of management to improve team harmony. That’s what I was referring to re ‘high maintenance’.

          To your point – the mature recruits have perhaps been the greatest blight on Brisbane over recent years. Christensen, Bastinac, Bell, Robinson, Beams etc. have all missed a lot of football – with injuries and form. Hodge will deliver. He’s never been a quick player. So no downside there. He’s always played on guile, courage, skill and smarts – all still alive and well.

          • November 12th 2017 @ 9:01am
            George said | November 12th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

            Thanks, Steven. Mediation sessions sounds lovely. Not wonder Lions did not increase the offer. I hope you’re right that Hodge still got it. I guess in worst scenario he will just coach. I would like to see both QLD clubs improving next year.

    • Roar Guru

      November 13th 2017 @ 5:00pm
      SportsFanGC said | November 13th 2017 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

      Hi Maddy,

      I think the Lions have got themselves in a great position for this year’s draft holding picks 1, 15, 18, 40, 44, 52.

      I have a feeling that they will go with either Davies-Uniacke or Dow with Pick 1.

      They have shown a leaning towards going with the Victorian Country rather than Victorian Metro kids in the past 3 drafts and I don’t see that strategy changing this year.

      There is a two-fold benefit with this being that the Vic Country kids typically have not lived in Melbourne for any great length of time (or at all if they didn’t board) and most will be known to each other through the Representative Games from the current or previous years.

      Both those players are ready to go for debuts in Round 1.

      Rayner to me is a risk the Lions don’t need with Pick 1 as I feel he will leave as soon as a big VIC Club comes calling in 2019. He is saying the right things in the media but so did Jake Lever and that was a guy leaving a strong Club in an AFL city.

      I would think with Pick 15 they would consider any of Charlie Constable, Lochie O’Brien or Ed Richards. Hopefully O’Brien with elite endurance and left foot will make his way to the Club (and he is Vic Country also).

      I suspect that they will need to utilize Pick 18 on Connor Ballenden from the their academy, which will go a long way to relieving the issue of Schache walking out the door (after again saying all the right things in his draft year). Hopefully Ballenden can show the same zeal and appetite as Eric Hipwood and they can build around a QLD Forward Line for the next decade.

      Charlie Cameron was a good acquisition (although Pick 12 was probably overs) and he will need to kick somewhere in the vicinity of 30 goals next season to justify the price paid.

      I hope that Andrews, McStay, Gardiner, Cox, Witherden and Skinner (when fit) learn as much as they can from Hodge on everything from how to position themselves to distribution from the backline to set up quality attacking forays into the Lions 50.

      Picks over 40 are a lottery so I think they simply need to go with what they consider the best kid available at those picks (if they even use them all).

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