Brisbane Lions 2012 Season Preview

INS: Sam Docherty (national draft), Mitch Golby (rookie draft), Ben Hudson (Western Bulldogs), Jordan Lisle (Hawthorn), Billy Longer (national draft), Patrick Wearden (national draft), Elliott Yeo (national draft), Dayne Zorko (Gold Coast Suns).

OUTS: Matt Austin (delisted), Jamie Charman (retired), Mitch Clark (Melbourne), Tom Collier (delisted), Brendan Fevola (delisted), Luke Power (GWS).

YEAR IN REVIEW: The pain of trying to pinch a flag in 2009 continued to haunt the Lions last season. A lack of class and depth was again exposed as the season unfolded. They showed signs of life in the development of a few quality kids last season, including best and fairest winner Tom Rockliff, gun midfielder Jack Redden and talented ruckman Matthew Leuenberger. Daniel Rich had a downer but has everything required to join them in the elite bracket soon. The absence of Jonathan Brown and Daniel Merrett left a huge void at either end of the ground as 11 players made their debut during a miserable 4-18 season.

GAME BREAKER: There’s a void in the Brisbane forward line and it’s time Aaron Cornelius stepped up and filled it. The 21-year-old possesses raw ability but it’s his desire that’s come into question. With Mitch Clark gone there’s a position for him in attack if he wants it enough.

RISING STAR: Patrick Karnezis looks to have enough tricks to make it as a dangerous mid-sized forward. He impressed at the NEAFL level with 24 goals in 10 appearances before getting his AFL debut in round 13. Karnezis managed every game from there on in and, in a struggling side, kicked 17 goals during that period. With Jonathan Brown alongside him and more supply from midfield the 19-year-old should kick on.

KEY ARRIVAL: Billy Longer looks to be the most promising of the additions on a playing front but it’s in the coaches box I’m impressed with. The Lions won the race for sacked Fremantle coach Mark Harvey. Michael Voss enters his fourth year in charge and Harvey, who led the Dockers to the finals in 2010, will be a valuable sounding board for the coach and a genuine replacement for the top job if we see another dismall season.

COACH FACTOR: His record stinks and Michael Voss knows it. Voss has made mistakes and boasts just 25 wins from 68 games in charge. Even worse, he’s won just 11 of the past 44. He signed a two-year extension at the end of a disastrous 2011 campaign but the Lions included an out clause if certain development targets aren’t hit. The pressure will be on.

STATS THAT MATTER: Contested possessions and clearances. It’s no coincidence that the top teams rank highly on these two measurements. And it won’t shock anyone in the industry to learn that Brisbane’s overworked midfielders stunk it up on both counts in 2011. They recorded a -14.7 contested possessions differential, the league’s worst, as well as a -4.5 differential in clearances. Simon Black needs help through this part of the ground.

THE VERDICT: 16th. Redden, Rockliff, Rich, Polec, Leuenberger, Hanley, Polkinghorne, Green, Lester, O’Brien, Sheldon, Cornelius, Karnezis. The Brisbane Lions hopes don’t necessarily rise and fall with the fitness of Jonathan Brown, nor should it. Add quality draft picks Longer, Docherty, Yeo, Wearden as well as former Hawthorn tall Lisle and the Lions have alot of upside. Although, a fully fit injury-free season from Merrett and Brown will go a long way in improving on last year’s four wins. Patience is still needed.

BEST 22

B: Adcock Merrett Patfull

HB: Hanley Maguire Drummond

C: Redden Rockliff Polec

HF: Polkinghorne Lisle Banfield

F: Karnezis Brown McGrath

Foll: Leuenberger Black Rich

I/C: Hudson, Sheldon, Stiller

SUB: Beams

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