AFLW 2018 team preview and predicted finish: Brisbane Lions

Joel Shepherd Roar Guru

By Joel Shepherd, Joel Shepherd is a Roar Guru

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    Yes, I’m tipping the Lions to fall at the final hurdle once more in 2018. But it’s a small price to pay for what could become a multi-year domination of the competition.

    The thing is, Queensland girls’ football is booming. All of that talent flowing down the pipeline, and most of it will end up in the Lions – yet unlike Western Australia, other teams aren’t yet poaching all the best Queensland players (Tayla Harris excluded).

    Last season the Lions didn’t have many stars, but they did have enormous depth, with strong contributions coming from every position.

    Craig Starcevich made the most of that depth, and his team played tough, accountable football with perhaps the best swarming pressure in the league.

    While most teams had a core of top stars, then the rest a level below, Brisbane applied equal pressure on every single matchup around the ground, making it impossible for less evenly-spread teams to win enough contests to beat them.

    And in every draft from now until the Gold Coast Suns arrive, Brisbane will get deeper faster than every other team in the country except perhaps the Dockers.

    This time around, the Lions got stronger in every part of the field.

    Down back they’ve lost their best defender Sam Virgo to a knee injury, but gained top junior Arianna Clarke, livewire small Ruby Blair, and athletic mature-age Renee Cowan, who would have been in the team last year but for an injured ankle just before draft day.

    Up forward they’ve lost Tayla Harris, but gained young Bella Ayre from the Carlton trade, who had probably more good games last season than Harris did.

    They also added Kalinda Howarth, a mid-sized athletic forward with that X-factor ability to do things few others would attempt.

    And in the middle, Emily Bates and Emma Zielke get some quality help in Jordan Zanchetta (who also would have been prominent last year if not for injury), skilful youngster Gabby Collingwood, and Carlton trade Nat Exon.

    There’s also W-League player Emma Pittman, and some interesting rookie draft prospects. Last season the Brisbane midfield were effective enough just kicking long from stoppages — this year they should have the depth to spread wide and run.

    There will be a real competition this season in the Lions team just to see who gets a game, especially in the crowded backline.

    Next season, another flood of talented youngsters will turn that competition desperate. I don’t think it’s quite enough to get them a premiership this season, but I’ll be completely unsurprised if I’m wrong.

    Prediction: 2nd.

    In addition to his interest in sport, Joel Shepherd is a professional Science Fiction author. You can read more by him here.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • Roar Guru

      December 13th 2017 @ 9:11am
      TomC said | December 13th 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

      Good write up.

      I really only watched the Lions in the inaugural AFLW. From what I saw, depth was definitely the key word for their success last year. For me, Sam Virgo was just about their best player so that’s a big loss.

      My suspicion is that as the competition matures it might get more difficult for defensively minded teams like the Lions to shut out their opponents, so they probably do need to try to add some run and spread to their game as Joel indicates.

      But they played that defensive minded stop-start footy well last year so my guess is that it’ll be more of the same.

    • December 13th 2017 @ 3:04pm
      JD said | December 13th 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

      Good article, Joel, but this part of this sentence just completely threw me (I had to re-read it a couple of times~!):
      “Gabby Collingwood, and Carlton trade Nat Exon”
      I seriously didn’t know what I was reading there for a moment.

      • December 13th 2017 @ 3:20pm
        Joel Shepherd said | December 13th 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

        Concentrate 🙂
        I’m sure Gabby Collingwood’s going to be getting complaints about her name for a long time…

    • December 13th 2017 @ 3:16pm
      Joel Shepherd said | December 13th 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

      (this is aimed at TomC, I put it in the wrong spot :-()
      Yeah, in the first season the Lions relied on other teams inability to have four or five players string possessions together against them. Someone would always fumble or miss the target, which is why I think talent depth is the most important thing in the league right now, if teams want to improve. So it’ll be really interesting to see how the two best ball-handling teams in the comp — Melbourne and the Bulldogs (or the Dogs SHOULD be, with all their new midfielders) — do against Brisbane this season. If they can pick their way through the pressure without fumbling, Brisbane could struggle against them.

    • December 15th 2017 @ 12:26am
      Martin said | December 15th 2017 @ 12:26am | ! Report

      I wonder if Brisbane finish top of the ladder again whether they will play the grand final at the Gabba or will they play at Metricon Stadium again?

      • Roar Guru

        December 15th 2017 @ 7:53am
        Cat said | December 15th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

        Would have been at the Gabba if the ground was available, it was not. Did the AFL fail to react soon enough to ensure the ground would be available? Probably. Hopefully they have learned.

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