AFL 2021 Season Preview: Brisbane Lions

Joe Daniher in action. Picture: lions.com.au

It’s all set for the Brisbane Lions to go another step further in season 2021, with strong off-field recruitment again.

Last year: Prelim loss to Geelong.

2nd. 14 wins, 3 losses, 124.9%

It was another strong season for the lions who finished the home and away season second on the ladder, losing just three matches and making the finals for a second straight season – a feat they haven’t achieved since 2003-04.

Going one step better from 2019, the Lions eased past Richmond in the qualifying final winning its first final since 2009.

The Brisbane Lions were one step away from hosting a historic home grand final at the Gabba when they fell to Geelong by 40 points in the preliminary final.

Track watch:

It has been an uninterrupted start for new recruit Joe Daniher who is yet to miss a training session since arriving at his new club as he prepares for his first-round one AFL game in three years.

Former Cat Nakia Cockatoo has been on a modified program since Christmas but has completed all of the skills sessions and will be fit in time for round one.

Cam Rayner fired in last week’s match simulation playing in the midfield.

New draftee Harry Sharp set a new Brisbane Lions club record, clocking a sub nine-minute 3km time trial time while Ely Smith is making a strong case for an early season debut after returning to the club in great shape, with his increased aerobic capacity helping him finish fourth in the club’s time trial.

What to look forward to:

An elite forward line.

With the additions of Joe Daniher and Nakia Cockatoo along with the emergence of Keidean Coleman late last season, the Lions forward line is looking rather sexy.

The trio will look to force their way into a forward line that already boasts the likes of Eric Hipwood, Cam Rayner and the dangerous Charlie Cameron.

However, there is plenty of work to do this off season.

The Lions may have led the competition for shots on goal in 2020 but will be looking to fix their accuracy going into season 2021 as the club also lead the comp for behinds last season.

It’s a big year for:

With the addition of star recruit Joe Daniher, less attention will be paid to fellow key forward Eric Hipwood who averaged just 1.26 goals a game, his worst since 2016.

The 23-year-old will now have the luxury of playing on the second best defender which may see him return to his 2018 form where he kicked 37 goals.

Expect the new-look forward line to benefit Hipwood in 2021 who will be looking to return to his best.

Biggest unanswered question:

Can Joe be the difference?  

It will leave a sour taste in the mouths of Bombers fans if Joe Daniher can get unleash his full potential in his first season at his new club.

All eyes will be on big Joe in 2021 after already impressing at his new club this pre-season.

Daniher kicked four goals on Harris Andrews in last week’s match simulation and hasn’t missed a training session since arriving at the club.

The injury riddled key forward has played just 15 matches over the past three seasons, including just four appearances in 2020.

By all reports, Daniher is finally fit and will be raring to go for round one alongside fellow key tall Eric Hipwood and small forward Charlie Cameron.

Coach pressure index:

Low

After already leading Brisbane to two consecutive finals appearances, Lions CEO Greg Swann said it was a “no-brainer” to extend Fagan’s contract.

Fagan is now contracted until the end of 2023 and can sleep easily as his Lions continue to improve.

Ins: Nakia Cockatoo (Geelong Cats), Joe Daniher (Essendon Bombers), Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies), Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels/Vic Country), Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia), Grant Birchall (Re-listed), Carter Michael (Academy), Deividas Uosis (Cat B).

Outs: Jacob Allison (delisted), Allen Christensen (retired), Matt Eagles (delisted), Mitchell Hinge (Adelaide Crows), Corey Lyons (delisted), Stefan Martin (Western Bulldogs), Sam Skinner (delisted), Alex Witherden (West Coast Eagles), Toby Wooller (delisted).

Predicted Rd 1 line up:

B: Brandon Starcevich – Harris Andrews – Darcy Gardiner
HB: Grant Birchall – Jack Payne – Daniel Rich
C: Hugh McCluggage – Jarryd Lyons – Mitch Robinson
HF: Zac Bailey – Joe Daniher – Cam Rayner
F: Charlie Cameron – Eric Hipwood – Lincoln McCarthy
FO: Oscar McInerney – Lachie Neale – Dayne Zorko
INT: Callum Ah Chee – Jarrod Berry – Nakia Cockatoo – Daniel McStay

Predicted ladder range: 2-6

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