And then there were five. Welcome to lucky part number 13 of my season reviews on every side.
The Brisbane Lions finished fourth on the ladder with 15 wins, and seven losses in the home-and-away season in season 2021. They snuck into the top four and were given a double chance, which they didn’t capitalise on.
The Lions lost their opening two games of season 2021. They followed that up with 11 wins in their next 13 matches. They won the last three games of the season, which gave them what’s regarded as the coveted double chance, which meant nothing as they lost two finals games in a row!
They were knocked out in the semi-final, along with the Giants, who finished seventh in the-home-and-away season. Therefore, for the purpose of this exercise, the Lions are fifth.
To be eligible for selection, it’s essential that each player selected featured in at least five games in season 2021. Here are the five players and an honourable mention selected, which the Lions could least afford to lose based on their performances in season 2021.
Honourable mention: Charlie Cameron
Cameron averaged the most goals of any Lions player with an average of 2.29 goals per game. Along with that, he only failed to kick goals in two of the 24 games that he featured in. He had the fifth most score involvements on average with 6.33 score involvements per game. He was selected in the AFL All Australian squad of 40.
5. Hugh McCluggage
McCluggage was one of five players in the Lions team selected in the AFL All Australian squad, with Daniel Rich the only one selected in the final 22.
It’s impressive that McCluggage came second in the Lions best and fairest. He averaged 8.88 contested possessions per game, which was high considering he played on the wing. He averaged the equal third most score involvements of any Lions player with an average of 6.54 score involvements per game.
4. Dayne Zorko
Zorko was one of the best captains in the AFL in season 2021. He was rewarded for his consistent season by being selected in the All Australian squad. Along with that, he won the Brisbane Lions best and fairest. He averaged the most score involvements of any Lions player with an average of 7.70 score involvements per game. He averaged the second most tackles of any Lions player with 6.09 tackles per game.
3. Jarryd Lyons
Lyons featured in all 24 games that the Lions played in season 2021 and was a part of the All Australian squad. He averaged the most contested possessions of any Lions player with an average of 13.62 per game.
They won all seven games that Lachie Neale was unavailable to play in due to injury. In his absence, Lyons stepped up. He had an average of 6.08 score involvements per game. He polled the most Brownlow votes of any Lions player as he finished with 23 votes!
2. Daniel Rich
Rich was selected in the AFL All Australian team for 2021 on a halfback flank. He averaged the second most metres gained per game of any player in the competition with an average of 630.50, which was remarkable. He lacked help, however, with Grant Birchall the only real back up for the role Rich had, retiring at the end of the season.
1. Oscar McInerney
McInerney was without an experienced back up ruckman as Stefan Martin was traded to the Bulldogs in the off-season. He missed one game out of the 24 games that the Lions played.
He averaged 29.17 hitouts, which was the eighth highest of any player in the competition. His only back up was Archie Smith and Tom Fullarton. Therefore, the only option for McInerney was to relish the opportunity to be the number one ruckman for the Lions in season 2021.
He averaged the third most contested possessions of any Lions player with an average of 10.22 per game.