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‘It's not a problem we've had before’: Lions face fresh forwards dilemma

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3rd September, 2021
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Brisbane face a forwards dilemma for the first time in Chris Fagan’s five seasons as coach of the AFL club.

The Lions will enter Saturday night’s semi-final against the Western Bulldogs without key forward Dan McStay, who becomes the first player automatically ruled out of a post-season match under the AFL’s new concussion protocols.

McStay’s absence is a blow when the Lions have been without fellow important forward Eric Hipwood (knee) since Round 17.

Brisbane were comfortably the best scoring team during the home-and-away season but Melbourne’s stingy defence kept the Lions to just 60 points in last week’s qualifying final loss.

Fagan said all options were on the table to replace McStay up forward, including out-of-sorts fullback Harris Andrews.

The dual All Australian has struggled to find his best form this year and it is believed he has been struggling with a knee issue.

Harris Andrews of the Lions in action

Harris Andrews (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

But Andrews, who stands at 202 centimetres, could be moved forward in a bid to expose the Bulldogs’ under-sized defence.

Key position player Jack Payne, along with gritty young midfielder Deven Robertson, have earned a recall for the sudden-death match at the Gabba.

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Fagan even mentioned Marcus Adams, who played forward during his time at the Bulldogs, could move to closer to the Lions’ goals.

“It’s not a problem we’ve had before,” Fagan said. 

“Eric Hipwood and Dan McStay have been pillars of our forward line ever since I’ve been at the club and neither of them are available. 

“It’s inspired lots of good discussion.

“There’s risk involved but in some way shape or form we’re going to make a decision that could upset the applecart of the team.”

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Vital defender Darcy Gardiner has also been struggling for fitness after missing large parts of the season through injury, but made it through the Lions’ main training session to be declared fit to play.

The Bulldogs on Friday flew to Queensland from Tasmania, where they had been based since defeating Essendon in last Sunday’s elimination final.

Luke Beveridge’s team has mostly been confined to their hotel rooms due to COVID-19 protocols.

The Bulldogs opted to stick with the same side that took care of the Bombers in Launceston, resisting the urge to strengthen their ruck department with former Lions big man Stefan Martin.

© AAP

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