AFL Draft

AFL Draft Club Preview: Brisbane Lions

List Breakdown by position:

Key Def Gen Def Mid Mid/Fwd Gen Fwd Key Fwd Ruck Total
6 15 9 1 8 3 3

43

Average Age: 24

Players In: Luke Hodge, Charlie Cameron

Players Out: Tom Rockliff, Josh Schache

Retired/Delisted: Jonathan Freeman, Blake Grewar, Ryan Harwood, Jarrad Jansen, Michael Close, Cian Hanley, Claye Beams, Reuben William, Matthew Hammelmann

Draft Picks: 1, 15, 18, 40, 44, 52

What They Got/Lost:

The Lions trade period typified the difficulties that the Queensland clubs are facing at the moment. A former pick 2 in the form of Josh Schache wanted away and left for meagre returns, whilst they were forced to pay pick 12 for a former rookie in the form of Charlie Cameron, who openly requested the move north. That being said, the Lions will be happy with how their squad is shaping up, after a year of promise. The loss of Tom Rockliff to Port means that they lose one of their experienced ballwinners in the centre, but the addition of Hawks legend Luke Hodge could prove a masterstroke. While Hodge is certainly in the twilight of his career, and won’t play every game, his presence as a clubman to the Lions promising young list will be massively beneficial.

What They Need:

The Lions were the worst team moving forward last season, registering fewer inside 50’s per game than any other side, and in Tom Rockliff they’ve lost one of their biggest scoreboard impacting players. The addition of Charlie Cameron fills that gap perfectly, however. Cameron ranked third at the Crows for inside 50s per game for all players who played five or more games and fourth for goal assists. He will likely slot in with Lewis Taylor and potentially a fit again Allen Christensen to provide pressure and impact inside 50 alongside Josh Walker and the impressive Eric Hipwood.

The loss of Rocky will mostly be felt in the centre, however, and this is no doubt where the main focus for the Brisbane recruiters will lie. Dayne Zorko’s rise to become one of the top goal kicking midfielders in the competition has been a great story for the Lions, but there needs to be much more depth in that area. Dayne Beams was in superb touch in a relatively injury free 2017, but after him things start to look a bit sparse. There have been very encouraging signs from the likes of Rhys Mathieson and Jarrod Berry, and Hugh McCluggage was certainly stringing together some eyecatching performances together. You feel one or two ready to go types in the centre would certainly be the priority.

On the Radar:

The Lions have one player that is certain to find his way to the Gabba in Connor Ballenden. The Lions Academy player had been talked about as a potential pick one last season, but has slipped down the list this year after never really dominating at any level. Despite never having that big breakout game, Ballenden is still massively appealing on pure attributes, being a very mobile 199cm, and a superb field kick. He has shown flashes at either end of the ground and also through the ruck, and that could well be how he is eventually utilised – with the last two AFL premiers highlighting the fact that ruckmen need to be mobile and impact elsewhere around the ground. There is a real chance that Ballenden doesn’t get bid on before pick 18, in which case the Lions can use later picks to scoop him up, while still securing three first round selections.

With pick one it will be interesting to see where the Lions go. Their preference for country players could rule out pick 1 favourite Cam Rayner, although he has assured them he is not a go-home risk. Until he builds his tank, he’ll play mainly forward and this may also rule him out. It looks like it could be between Bendigo’s Paddy Dow and Dandenong’s Luke Davies-Uniacke. With Dow perhaps requiring further physical development, it could well be the ‘ready-to-go’ LDU that makes the trip North.

With 15 and 18 they could well emulate what they did last year in recruiting Huge McCluggage’s TAC Cup teammates Jarrod Berry and Cedric Cox. LDU’s Dandenong teammates Hunter Clark and Aiden Bonar are both players that could come straight into an AFL environment and excel. It would require a bit of luck in running to snag them both, seeing as either could be taken much higher, but it isn’t outside the realms of possibility. Otherwise, they could take a look at Bendigo’s Lochie O’Brien, his penetrating and accurate kick would be an asset down the wing, but he would likely start as a half-back – not an area the Lions are particularly short on.

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