AFL 3 years ago

Five defining questions ahead of 2016: Brisbane Lions

  • Five defining questions ahead of 2016: Brisbane Lions
For the teams who don't make the AFL Finals, it can be a frustrating and miserable time waiting for the off-season to start. There’s the draft to look forward to, the free agency period and the excitement and surprises that occur at the trade table.

Every AFL fan wants their team to improve in 2016. So while we patiently wait for the finals to get underway, here are a few points of interest and key questions your club has to consider in the off-season, as they look towards their 2016 campaign.

It's time to turn up the heat on the Brisbane Lions.

1 - How are Brisbane going to handle the speculation around another player exodus?

This one is pretty simple. The Brisbane Lions cannot afford to have another version of the 'homesick five' which completely set them back a few years at the end of 2013.

Jack Redden wants out. Matthew Leuenberger is pretty much out the door. And as for James Aish, well, everybody thought he was 100% on his way to Victoria or South Austraila, but there are rumblings that he may be a chance of staying up in Queensland after a positive exit interview this past week.

How are Brisbane going to handle another player exodus? Well, on a positive note for Brisbane fans, the club told best and fairest winner and number one ruckman Stefan Martin that he won't be traded under any circumstances this year, after Martin was linked with a move back home to Victoria.

The club also told Sam Mayes he won't be traded, after the South Australian wanted to move back home. And lastly, small forward Josh Green has been linked to Carlton. However, remember last off-season when the Giants made a public statement saying Tom Boyd wouldn't be traded under any circumstances...Hmm...Well, $7 million dollars later...And, you know how that one turned out.

But on a serious note - despite ruling out the trades of Mayes and Martin - how are Brisbane going to handle the Aish, Redden, Green and any other situations that are thrown at them in the off-season.  Do they play hard-ball, do they go after experience, draft picks? What should be the strategy with these contracted players (and Aish, who is out of contract)?

2 - Where is the help in the forward line going to come from?

After Jonathon Brown's retirement last season, the weight of Brisbane's goal scoring was largely left to the likes of Michael Close, Daniel McStay and Jonathan Freeman, who combined have a total of 44 AFL games experience. Small forward Josh Green led the club with 25 goals, whilst Allen Christensen, Dayne Zorko and Lewis Taylor chipped in 19, 18 and 17 goals respectively.

Close's 2015 campaign was ruined with an ACL, while McStay and Freeman showed glimpses throughout the season. But until these players bulk up and get games under their belts, Brisbane's scoring woes will continue.

In 2015, the Lions kicked 224 goals - the second worst in the competition. They also failed to score at least 10 goals, 11 times in the season. SOS to list management: the forward line needs help. Immediately.

Personally, I think they need experience. Yes, they can draft Murray Bushrangers forward Josh Schache with pick two in the draft, and that will help, in the future. But they need help. And they need it now. Think of Paddy McCartin at the Saints. He has Nick Riewoldt and Josh Bruce to shoulder the load until he has what it takes to compete and dominate at the senior level.

Charlie Dixon would have been a quick fix - but he seems to be on his way to Port Adelaide. Should the Lions go after Jay Schulz? Can Brisbane snare Josh Walker away from Carlton (in the Henderson trade)? Other goal kicking options on the market are Jeremy Howe or North's Aaron Black.

3 - Can Brisbane reproduce the epic off-season of 2014?

The 2014 off-season was one of the better moments for the Brisbane Lions since their three-peat in the early 2000's. It's been a tough slog since the glory days, but at the conclusion of 2014, the Lions almost challenged Hawthorn for the 'destination club' title.

In came Dayne Beams, Allen Christensen and Mitch Robinson, two of which won best and fairest medallions for the club a few days ago.

The names floating around for the 2015 off-season aren't half bad either. Brisbane have already been linked to Hawthorn's classy half-backer Matt Suckling, Collingwood's Paul Seedsman and Carlton's queensland native, Tom Bell.

With a host of names on the market, including Harley Bennell, Chris Yarran, Patrick Dangerfield (although I think we all know where he is heading), Zac Smith, Jeremy Howe, Curtly Hampton, Nathan Freeman and so on, can Brisbane make some incredible moves at the trade table to secure some elite talent for their club like they did last year?

Brisbane need classy and skillful ball users, a linking player from defense to attack and some talent up forward. Another defender wouldn't hurt either.

It's safe to say this year's trade and free agency period is going to be exciting.

 4 - Did Brisbane let Jed Adcock go one year too early?

With a couple games left to play in the season, former captain Jed Adcock was told his services at the club would not be needed moving forward.

The 29-year-old played 206 games with the Lions as a classy, attacking, half-back defender. Adcock captained the club for two years before Tom Rockliff took over.

At only 29 years of age, the question must be asked - are Brisbane sure they couldn't of used Adcock for at least one more year? He did kick a nice 4-goal bag in his last game against the Bulldogs.

One would assume he doesn't take up a lot of room in the salary cap, and there's no doubt he would be a great role model and mentor for the young players, and most importantly, the young crop of defenders the Brisbane Lions have coming through the ranks.

Anyway, the decision has been made, but hopefully Adcock gets another opportunity elsewhere. With the rumors of another exodus swirling, I hope this decision isn't one the Lions live to regret.

5 - Will coach Justin Leppitsch get a contract extension?

After two season with the young Brisbane Lions, coach Justin Leppitsch finds himself out of contract at the end of next season.

It's no secret Leppitsch was dealt a tough hand with his first senior coaching gig. A struggling club on and off the field, the Lions have struggled to keep players, as well as say goodbye to club legends. And injuries haven't been kind. In fact, injuries have ruined them.

After only four wins this year, and narrowly missing the wooden spoon, Justin Leppitsch has a huge 2016 ahead of him.

The coaching position is one of the most pressured positions in professional sport, but can Leppitsch survive the ongoing speculation that will occur if the Lions don't move to lock him in long-term soon?

What does Leppa have to do over the off-season and over next year to secure an extension? Is it about wins? Is it about player improvement? You tell me.

Five important questions. What are your answers.


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