Part 1 of the six-part series comprises the five players the Adelaide Crows, Brisbane Lions and Carlton Blues can least afford to lose in 2021, plus each side gets one honourable pre-draft mention.
The Brisbane Lions need to drink some tea.
Or at the very least – if they want to achieve ultimate success in 2020 – they need to acknowledge and heed the advice provided by Sen no Rikyū and Ii Naosuke. Why? Because of 一期一会, or Ichi-go ichi-e.
A concept introduced by famed tea master Sen no Rikyū in the 16th century, the phrase was reinvented by Ii Naosuke – the chief administrator of the Tokugawa Shogunate – and translates as “each moment, only once”.
In recognition of continuous threats of assassination made against him, Naosuke ritualised the making of his tea each day, preparing each cup as if it were potentially his last. Upon emptying his drinking vessel, he would remark that the tea he had just consumed was more beautiful than the one before, knowing he would never have the chance to drink another tea exactly like the one he had just made.
As the Lions near the beginning of the end of the AFL season, it’s increasingly obvious there’s one thing they must (continue) to do: value each moment like a beautiful treasure and become moment hunters, especially when faced with a set shot inside their forward 50.
Last year – on the back of a barnstorming 10-1 home record – Brisbane rose to second on the ladder at the end of the home-and-away season, and the roar and bite was finally back as they entered their first finals series since 2010.
However, an abysmal 8.17 kicking performance in the qualifying final saw them crash to a 47-point loss at the hands of eventual premiers Richmond, and another inaccurate performance – 11.14 in the semi-final – meant the Lions were unable to stop GWS snatching a three-point victory.
Questions were raised then about their ability to finish the job on the biggest stage.
Season 2020 has seen similarly worrying results in some of their marquee clashes, with their wayward ways continuing somewhat unabated. Kicking 10.23 in Round 4 against Adelaide didn’t cost them – as the Crows were firmly on their way to the bottom even at this early stage – but returns of 6.10 in their Round 6 clash with Geelong and a dire 4.17 against Richmond in Round 10 resulted in losses. Kicking 6.14 in Round 13 against St Kilda saw them barely hold on for the win.
If you believe the pundits, their inaccuracy is still very much a problem.
Jordan Lewis noted on SEN Breakfast that it’s starting to become a mental battle for the Lions.
“I think the Brisbane Lions have got a real issue and I think Jed Adcock is the coach that’s taken on that responsibility (goal kicking),” he said.
“You just hope – like it did last year – it doesn’t come back to bite them in a big final.”
Former Brisbane greats Alastair Lynch and Jonathan Brown have called for the Lions to embrace chances, or they might run the risk of inaccuracy costing them an AFL premiership.
“It’s being able to really want to crave that opportunity in a game to get the lay down misere shot and convert it,” Lynch said.
“It seems some of the Lions’ players are anxious and it looks like they don’t crave the shot at the moment.”
Even Brisbane coach Chris Fagan acknowledge there was some merit to the debate, noting his team’s ability to finish.
“We’re fortunate at this point in time,” he said.
“I think we’re the most inaccurate team in the competition… it’s something we constantly practice… it won’t stay that way forever.”
And let’s be honest, the statistics don’t paint a pretty picture. Of their major goal-scorers this season, Charlie Cameron has 23.19, Eric Hipwood 20.16, Lincoln McCarthy 13.12, Lachie Neale 11.11, Dayne Zorko 8.13, Hugh McCluggage 7.16, Jarrod Berry 7.8, and Jarryd Lyons 3.8.
In a sporting context, mistakes or errors occur because many athletes sabotage their own performance as a result of not being able to let go of past mistakes – falling in a rut where they seem doomed to repeat their previous failings. You see this in the pained expressions of concentration arising from a fixation on doing anything to avoid making another mistake. And when it comes to AFL, there’s lot that needs to be in sync when taking a set shot.
However, what should be realised by players is that what you do now will have a unique and totally different result from what you might do another time. That every event is new and special, and full of potential. Although we never know the final consequences of our actions and decisions, we can recognise that every moment holds essential value, and as such, should be experienced with utmost enjoyment and freedom.
Which is why Brisbane are in need of a cuppa.