05/03/2024

Jack Gunston has followed in the footsteps of previous Hawk legends by being traded to Brisbane in the twilight of his career (Image: AFL; Design: WIll Cuckson

Triple premiership forward Jack Gunston has been traded to the Brisbane Lions for pick 48 and a future fourth-round pick, following in the footsteps of other Hawthorn legends Luke Hodge and Grant Birchall.

Gunston kicked 410 goals in 211 games at the Hawks and was a key member of the Premiership three-peat, averaging 54 goals a season over that time. He’s set to bring a touch of class and consistency to the Lions’ forward setup.

Gunston was an unrestricted free agent, however, both clubs agreed to a trade to protect the free agency compensation picks they received through prior player movements.

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Why does Brisbane need Jack Gunston?

Brisbane has scored the most points overall in the four years post-2018. However, Charlie Cameron is the only player to average two or more goals a game through that period.

Joe Daniher leads the talls with 1.97 goals a game over his two seasons, albeit at a sub-par goal accuracy of 49 percent.

Daniel McStay and Eric Hipwood combined for a measly 195 goals from 157 games during the period. It’s been a top-heavy setup that never quite looked comfortable. Daniher, McStay, and Hipwood are all very similar players, leading forwards that crash packs and act as a physical presence on the field.

The Lions’ potent offence loses the plot in the finals, their scoring drops on average 18 percent from the regular season to the finals, from an average of 89 points per game to 70. (This includes shortened quarters of 2020). Brisbane is desperate for a player ahead of the ball to stand up on the big stage.

Their current setup lacked a player with the ability to play both tall and small and deliver consistent results. The departure of Dan McStay looks to have opened a spot in which Gunston will thrive, getting the third-string defender each week behind Daniher and Hipwood.

Lions are revamped and ready to go again

Gunston is one of four likely inclusions to Brisbane’s preliminary finals losing team. Expected father-son selections Will Ashcroft and Jaspa Fletcher will be further stacking the midfield of the Lions who already run extraordinarily deep.

Ashcroft has dominated his draft year and has been the clear number-one selection, solidified to injuries by other top prospects. The son of Lions legend Marcus Ashcroft was named best-on-ground in almost every game he played.

Josh Dunkley is still expected to make his way into Brisbane’s 22 and ensure the Lions compete with Melbourne as the best midfield in the competition. Fitting just three of their extensive line-up at the centre bounce will be the biggest challenge for the Lions.

What will Gunston bring to Brisbane’s forward line?

Gunston is a crafty, experienced forward that’s good at ground level. He’s happy to sacrifice his name on the scoresheet for the sake of the game, his 5.7 score involvements and 0.8 goal assists would have led the Brisbane forwards.

He sits just behind Charlie Cameron is forward 50 ground ball gets, at 1.8 per game, well ahead of Brisbane’s key forwards. On the other end of the spectrum, he also leads all Brisbane forwards for marks inside 50 per game at 2.4.

He’s played 13 finals throughout his career, during which his average goals per game improves from two to 2.2. Gunston is finals hardened and will be prepared to take a rejuvenated Lions list through 2023.

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