We started the You’re The Boss series last year and invited people who were passionate about their teams to tell us what they would do with them at the end of the year. Brods is kicking us off in 2015 with the analysis of his beloved Lions. If you’re keen to do your own team (and you can do as little or as much as you want) let us know in Comments who you barrack for and you’ve got the gig. Righto Brods, take us away…
Ah Trade Week… my favourite time of the year.
Every year the Lions throw up a few names and land a couple in return. This upcoming post season should be no different with heavy hitters like Swann, Warren, Schwab and Matthews leading the charge. The Lions are finally using the right bait… Cash! Cast offs aren’t being bought in at will and the club is somehow going to pay the full salary cap in 2016 and have been linked to some of the games fastest rising stars.
The success of the 2013 draft will be felt at the Gabba for many years to come with many of the players drafted on track to play their 50th games in 2016. While the development in the Lions academy is sure to uncover a few more diamonds of the Harris Andrews and Liam Dawson ilk that both made their debuts early in 2015.
Injuries are as much a part of the game as the goal posts and the Gabba has seen its fair share of casualties going through the medical room in 2015. While it’s unfortunate many of the Lions senior recruits in recent years just haven’t been able to stay fit for long enough to make a decent impression they may need to make way for the raft of young talent sweeping through the list currently.
Out of contract players Rohan Bewick and Ryan Harwood should receive new deals unless there are suitors out there for them from other teams but in my view they are important to the teams’ overall depth especially in the mature age player department so I’m keen to see them stay on.
Of the rookie listed players Jordon Bourke screams rookie upgrade as a now mature key defensive option. He’s been playing good footy for the reserves and impressed in his senior outings so far. Zac O’Brien also is in the same boat as being far too good for the reserves while lacking size and polish. A well placed clip behind the ear from Leppa might have been the catalyst for Zac to really take off as a regular in the Lions senior side. Matthew Hammelmann (key forward), Billy Evans (midfielder) & Hugh Beasley (key defender) are all still finding their feet while Archie Smith as the project ruckman seems to finally be stringing some consistently good performances in the reserves to warrant more time on the list.
Matt Maguire recently hung up the boots as serious concussion issues were plaguing his return to senior footy after rejuvenating his career at the Lions. A bit of filth involved with the latest setback which is a shame as Goose gave everything he had to the club after being offered a second chance via the draft. Brent Staker when on song is one of the handiest swingmen in the league but injuries have cruelled him in the latter stages of his career. Looked completely underdone in the few matches he appeared in and tore a hamstring shortly afterwards and would struggle to earn a new contract but would slide straight into a coaching role if he chose to go down that path.
Jackson Paine is another in a long line of key forward options currently sitting out with injury. Hasn’t made a decent impression at AFL level but dominates NEAFL defenders at will. Luke McGuane’s knees have been his biggest enemy since moving north and have been the catalyst for him rarely being seen in two seasons. While it’s unknown to me at this stage if these two are coming out of contract this season they’d have to be on tenterhooks to earn another one if they were. Mitch Golby was still in the seconds at the time of writing in a very injury depleted side despite producing decent numbers so perhaps he’s on the outer with the coach.
TRADE/FREE AGENCY PERIOD
Some big and some not so big names are linked to the Lions already as free agent targets when the window opens post season. Charlie Dixon, Ty Vickery, Lachie Henderson, Levi Casboult and Alex Rance are all on the alleged wish list and all could be useful but there is one rather big out of contract fish that no one seems to be talking about… and I nailed this one last year so here we go again with ‘Brods’ Pipe Dream Pick Up’.
Tom Hawkins is at the very top of my (and quite possibly Greg Swann’s) shopping list. Large sums of cash and an extended guaranteed contract closer to his native NSW might be enough to lure the big man away from the Cattery. If anything the Lions can drive his price right up in the hope that the much ballyhooed Geelong chase of Patrick Dangerfield, Scott Selwood and Lachie Henderson goes the distance and puts the financial squeeze on the Cats. The Lions absolutely need a man of Hawkins size and talents deep forward and are mad if the initial enquiries weren’t made while the Lions were also at work poaching Allen Christensen during the final round last season. Throw everything including the kitchen sink at him and hope Dangerfield picks the Cats as his preferred destination… job done!
Then there is the other bookend that the Lions need to tackle and while he’s currently disillusioned with his magnet hitting all points of the board, Jake Carlisle fits the bill perfectly. Nailing this one down would have to be the Lions’ top priority if Carlisle were interested in moving to Queensland to finish his career as they’ll have one of the AFL’s most versatile big men in their arsenal. Matt Suckling is also a player investigating his options and with the Hawks acquisition of James Frawley he could be easy pickings for the Lions who would get a quality, no nonsense defender on the cheaper end of the scale. Both are free agents and have their obvious attributes but getting out of the Melbourne fishbowl would probably appeal more to Carlisle especially once the ordeal regarding the WADA appeal into the supplements saga has blown over. Suckling, while being 27 years old, seems more likely a prospect given he’s outside the top 10 of the Hawk’s earners can walk as an unrestricted free agent to any offer he pleases, comes with less baggage and probably comes cheaper so we’ll go with him for now. Sign him up Swanny!
The Lions sprung a few surprises last season trading away Joel Patfull for pick 21 and outcomes like that have to be the goal this post season with James Aish if he chooses to leave at the end of 2015. Which begs the question: James Aish – Trade or Keep?
Usually the way it goes is ‘if they want to hold off negotiations until the end of the year, they’re gone’ and I think that’s the theory I’m going with. If Aish says he doesn’t care where he plays the motivating factor has to be money and the Lions want to throw it around at key position players ideally and lock in James so they know exactly how much they can spend. There are many suitors currently trying to woo James and it’s hard to ignore the rumblings out of Adelaide as they have interesting times ahead and may part with a first round pick (currently 13) especially if Dangerfield leaves. That might be paying overs for a guy that hasn’t gotten out of the blocks so far in 2015 but in a busy market it might be an offer too good to refuse for both parties if it were made.
What to do with that pick? Package it with pick 56 and go hunting the rich resources of GWS for another set of young half back options to offset the pending loss of Adcock. Are they going to miss Nick Haynes and Curtly Hampton? Haynes is entrenched in the best 22 of a top 8 side and might be harder to move despite GWS probably wanting some draft picks after the acquisition of Jacob Hopper as an academy selection is most likely to cost them all of theirs. Hampton is currently playing well in a loaded UWS side and could come for more opportunities at the Lions. Curtly’s brother Jamie is playing good footy (looked pretty sharp against QLD recently) for NT in the under 19 championships and as a sweetener you could pledge to rookie list him to instantly make him feel more at home.
Onto the veterans and free agents Leuenberger and Adcock may walk for nothing and given the plays Brisbane are likely to make with the key position raid and they’ll receive nothing in return for them if deals are struck with at least two players. All talks are off until the post season with these two and while it seems ludicrous that Adcock would be allowed to go given that he’s a longtime servant and former skipper, this is a rebuilding period and Jed won’t play in the Lions next finals appearance you’d feel. Ditto Matt Leuenberger so they might both be ideal top ups to the current wave of premiership contenders and experience a bit of success that had eluded them in their careers as Lions. It also frees up a bit of cash in the salary cap!
As it stands the Lions have picks 2, 20, 38, 56, 74 & 92 based solely on current ladder position.
Pick 2 – Jacob Weitering is the best key back in the draft and Gold Coast would be mad to pass up on him and with that said there is a particularly dominant key forward that’s going around in the U19 championships that has my complete attention. Josh Schache is the son of former Brisbane Bears forward Laurie Schache and if it weren’t for some considerable injury problems as a Bear, Laurie could have easily played the requisite 100 games required to make Josh a father/son selection. Laurie also wore the number 23 on his way to 67 goals in 29 games and if Leuenberger were to go it becomes available… a bit of romance involved for sure so if he were available I’d snap him up in an instant.
Pick 20 – Easy one this: Junior All-Australian Ben Keays, who was a standout midfielder for QLD at the championships in 2014 as an under aged prospect. In an effort not to over complicate things I’m going to assume that I’ve been overrating Ben Keays and pick 20 gets the job done but a quick explanation should it not. Under the new rules for academy selections the Lions must cash in draft picks on a ‘sliding scale’ points system should a rival club put forward a higher bid than that of pick 20. We would need to raise the capital to ‘buy’ the particular draft selection Keays finds himself bid for (worst case I assume between picks 10-15) and with a discount afforded to the Lions for their own academy players, pick 20 should easily combine with some lower selections to pay for it while netting the Lions another selection later in the draft or worst case at the end. It’s a shallow draft compared to that of 2014 according to all experts and getting a home grown talent of the highest quality in Keays despite the math involved.
Pick 38 – Eric Hipwood is another mobile tall utility type from the academy that the Lions would be foolish to pass up and is considered an early third round prospect hence his selection here. While not being rated anywhere near the talents of Weitering, Hipwood is part of the reason I’d pass up on getting him. Already a part of the AFL academy he’s spent time training with the Lions and seems destined to join the team. He did have a few issues with injury earlier in his career but given the vision from the U19 championships that seems to be in the distant past.
Late Picks/Rookie Draft – I’d use the academy as much as possible outside the first and second rounds and keep a wealth of home grown talent at the Gabba and Nate Dennis (Ruck) would help bolster the stocks of the big men as all three recognized ruckmen on the senior list are currently over 27 years old. Corey Wagner (Mid) is someone I can see getting taken late in the draft elsewhere but on recent evidence he is a classy ball user forward of centre. If selected, Wylie Buzza (Forward) would have one of the best names in footy, knows where the goals are, hits a pack hard and has good hands overhead. Reuben William (Mid) is of Sudanese origin, moving to Australia aged 5 but clearly has the pace, skill & athleticism to make it at AFL level and Tyler Roos as written about last year is the only potential father/son selection but is unlikely to be picked up as anything other than a rookie.
B: Harwood, Clarke, Haynes
HB: Hanley, Suckling, Paparone
C: Christensen, Rockliff, Zorko
HF: Taylor, McStay, Mayes
F: Schache, Hawkins, Green
R: Martin, Redden, D Beams
I/C: Rich, Robinson, Hampton
Ins: Hawkins, Suckling, C Hampton, Haynes, Shache, Keays, Hipwood, Bourke (Rookie Upgrade) (Dennis, Buzza, William, Wagner & J Hampton potential for rookie list).
Out: Adcock, Leuenberger, Golby, Paine, McGuane, Staker, Maguire, Aish.
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