Best 22 analysis: Brisbane

Conor Roar Guru

By Conor, Conor is a 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

    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.


    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    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.

    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.

    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?

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    The Crowd Says (24)

    • December 7th 2017 @ 8:11am
      Harsh Truth Harry said | December 7th 2017 @ 8:11am | ! Report

      This to Harry is a side building the right way, unlike the Suns or Carlton. It will be a long, slow wait for Brisbane fans but at least this is one side who are doing it the right way. SOS and Bolton should look at this build and follow this as a new blueprint.

    • December 7th 2017 @ 8:50am
      David C said | December 7th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

      McStay is training with the forwards apparently so I’d expect McStay/Walker to be a second tall in the forward line perhaps replacing Barrett with the one that misses out taking a spot on the bench. Eagles might be a chance in the backline to replace McStay.

      • Roar Guru

        December 7th 2017 @ 11:00am
        Paul D said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

        I guess with Hodge coming in someone was going to be pushed out, but gee I like McStay down back, he’s a good intercept mark. Andrews with the 1-1 shutdown role, McStay free to float around.

        I guess it’s the way things are headed – Harry Taylor and Cale Hooker spent a lot of time up forward last year, maybe the coaches know something we don’t in taking excellent defenders and making them so-so forwards. I’m sure there’s a reason behind it.

        • December 7th 2017 @ 11:21am
          Mattician6x6 said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

          Paul d- as the most prolific of the BL supporters on here what do you expect or rate as a successful year next season regarding your boys?

          • Roar Guru

            December 7th 2017 @ 11:27am
            Paul D said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

            I’m not expecting us to finish outside bottom 4 – realistically I think the only sides we can finish ahead of will be Suns, Carlton & North, I think everyone else is a bit too good for us over 22 weeks.

            If we finish outside bottom 4 I’ll be ecstatic. We just need to win more games. Wins will do wonders for retaining players.

            Also, I’d like to see work started on the facility at Springfield next year at some point, or at the very least, funding secured. That’s more important for us long term than the results of any one season.

            • December 7th 2017 @ 11:50am
              Mattician6x6 said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

              Is local or state politics holding it back because I’d imagine it’s in the afl best interest to fund both BL and GC with more modern facilities.

              • Roar Guru

                December 7th 2017 @ 11:55am
                Paul D said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

                State government unwilling to put in any money, understandably so. AFL should be the ones funding it.

              • December 7th 2017 @ 12:12pm
                Mattician6x6 said | December 7th 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

                I agree that afl should fund it. I understand when the afl baulked at the new facilities and stadium in wa as both wce and freo aswell a wafc are strong businesses and will remain viable even with outlays but qld is different and doesn’t generational fan bases to call upon.

              • Roar Rookie

                December 7th 2017 @ 11:57am
                Andrew Blake said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

                Funding is approved for all parts of the new facility except for the new the boutique stadium which is $15mil short. The state government is only party who hasn’t come on board just yet so that’s the holdup. There is no government at the moment so not going to get announced anytime soon. Most likely in the leadup to the next budget in May

    • Roar Guru

      December 7th 2017 @ 9:31am
      DingoGray said | December 7th 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      Though I personally wouldn’t pick Lester in my Best 22, Fags and coaching group hold
      him in high regard. He would be in there.

      With the inclusions of Rayner & Cameron and return of Christensen, I can’t see Barrett playing a lot of AFL Footy.

      For me Barrett out Lester in.

      • Roar Guru

        December 7th 2017 @ 10:58am
        Paul D said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

        Yeah, Lester is VC, he won’t be dropped. At least Bewick is nowhere to be seen.

    • December 7th 2017 @ 10:01am
      Mattician6x6 said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      What will be the measure of a successful year for Brisbane? I hope they don’t coach the victories are not as important as lessening the amount they lose by season in a rebuild, something I personally hate.
      There best last year was exciting to watch and if they continue that trajectory they’ll be even more enjoyable to watch in the coming years.

      • December 7th 2017 @ 10:16am
        Harsh Truth Harry said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        Well Mattician , you say “I hope they don’t coach the victories are not as important as lessening the amount they lose by season in a rebuild ” – that IS the Carlton blueprint, which has failed under Bolton and SOS as they actually went further down in 2017 so I don’t expect that the better coached and run club and administration Brisbane has will let that happen as it did with Carlton. Hodge body is done though I wouldn’t go expecting more than 8-10 games from him.

        • December 7th 2017 @ 11:18am
          Mattician6x6 said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          Hth- I’ll save my commentary on Carlton till the next article in this series.

    • Roar Guru

      December 7th 2017 @ 10:34am
      SportsFanGC said | December 7th 2017 @ 10:34am | ! Report

      Actually not a bad crack at a 22 for the Lions.

      There is plenty there to work with as the Lions push up the ladder and try and get themselves back in the September frame hopefully 2019-2020 seasons.

      For me I don’t see Jake Barrett or Cameron Rayner as locks for a starting 22 spot for Round 1 in 2018.

      Barrett is probably fighting with Christensen and Charlie Cameron in a scenario where 3 players do not go into 2 spots. That leaves another midfielder that can rest forward like Lester (who is a favourite of Fagan) probably starting. However In saying that I would prefer Barrett to play over Lester.

      As for Rayner I suspect that he will earn a Senior spot after a few weeks in the NEAFL to find his form and rhythm. Ben Keays or Jacob Allison probably gets that spot to try and cement themselves early in the season.

      Dan McStay showed great signs in the backline last year, hopefully he can continue to build on 2017 and the Lions don’t try and swing him too much between the back and forward line.

      It is the next generation that need to knock the door down and demand a starting 22 spot like Cedric Cox, Ben Keays, Jacob Allison, Sam Skinner (when he gets some luck with injury), Rhys Mathieson and Archie Smith.

      Stef Martin has dropped a long way from his peak form 2-3 years ago but definitely starts until usurped by Archie Smith and/or Oscar McInnerney.

      They need Dayne Beams and Dayne Zorko to stay fit all season.

      If the Lions youth are progressing as Lions fans are hoping then players like Bewick, Bell, Paparone, Frost, Hanley and Claye Beams will be playing plenty of NEAFL Footy and won’t be sighted much at the top level.

      • Roar Guru

        December 7th 2017 @ 11:03am
        Paul D said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        It is a pretty good 22. I think Barrett, Walker and Bastinac could go, and be replaced by Lester, Cutler and Allison/Cox but on the whole it’s pretty close.

        As usual I agree with you SC, so I’ll just say ‘seconded’ and leave it at that.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 7th 2017 @ 11:39am
      Andrew Blake said | December 7th 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

      I’d be shocked if the Lions go with only one tall forward. That’s actually one of their few strengths. And Josh Walker finished the season really strongly. If he comes through pre-season in the form he finished last season, he’ll start round 1 which would give time for Ballenden to get used to senior footy and Skinner to heal again.

      Like others, I don’t understand McStay moving forward. He began to look settled in the last few games and building a partnership with Andrews. He can only benefit from having Hodge beside him. Unless they plan to swap him with Walker (who did play a lot of NEAFL down back last year).