Only three short years ago, the Brisbane Lions had copped their second wooden spoon since the merger, which they followed with a disappointing 15th-placed finish in 2018 punctuated by seven losses within three goals and a percentage of 89.1 per cent.
However, after second-place finishes in the past two seasons, the resurgent Lions have fine-tuned their list in these past two offseasons in order to challenge for a flag in 2021.
The head-hunting of Bombers former father-son Joe Daniher in free agency opened a stunning trade period where the Lions also traded cheaply for Nakia Cockatoo, an unfulfilled AFL talent and former first-round draft pick with family connections in the Northern Territory and Queensland.
A couple of players that the club wasn’t able to retain were Cedric Cox and Mitch Hinge, who returned to their home states of Western Australia and SA, the former still hoping to win a spot at either of the Western Australia clubs and the latter gaining a spot on Adelaide’s list in delisted free agency.
Due to their preliminary final finish, Brisbane went to the trade table and executed a tranche of deft trades with an eye to this year’s draft and 2021, moving up and back to both secure optimal draft position in 2020 to match bids on Academy talent and move up to get a second future first-round pick via Melbourne.
On draft night, the Lions were surprised by Collingwood bidding on star Lions Academy prospect, Blake Coleman at pick 24. However, with judicious pick trading, they were easily able to match the bid as well as remain in the mix for another shot at the top of the third round.
Unfortunately, the Lions missed out on drafting big ruckman, Samson Ryan, who had just aged out of their academy while the club had a surplus of ruckmen. However, when he got drafted by Richmond (the fourth Lions Academy player to become a Tiger), the Lions instead picked the new AFL Draft Combine 2km time trial record-breaker, Harry Sharp.
Perhaps due to missing on their own academy ruck prospect, Brisbane next picked Henry Smith, a ruck forward from Woodville West Torrens.
This is very much a project player, having played only at under-18s level and missing out on the usual development in his draft year to work on ruck craft, yet he will be joining a strong ruck division and have time to develop.
The Brisbane Lions used up their Category A rookie spots by shifting back re-rookied players from their primary list, however, they did have the opportunity to fill both Category B rookie spots with previously announced Irish Gaelic Football goalkeeper, Deividas Uosis, plus Daniel Rich clone, Carter Michael, from the Lions Academy.
The Lions have kept a primary list spot available for potential pre-season or Mid-season acquisitions to fit list needs in the case of significant injuries, with the only carry over long term injury being Connor McFadyen, who is expected to return in the second half of the season.
Brisbane has put in an extended rebuild and is heading into the “win now” recruitment policy of their wide open premiership window by gambling on their medical department to cure Daniher’s groin and Cockatoo’s hamstrings, along with adding some talented 18-year-olds to their already formidable list.
Who are the Lions players that should play to their optimum level in season 2021? To be eligible for selection a player must have played at least five games in season 2020, so there can be a reference point as far as those players who apply their talent the best at AFL level. Here are […]