Squad Breakdown: Brisbane Lions SC roster analysis

We take an in-depth look at the Brisbane Lions' SuperCoach credentials heading into the 2022 AFL season.

AFL Pre Season Squad Breakdown

Brisbane will be looking to go a couple of steps better in 2022 after being sent home in straight sets from the 2021 finals.

They played some exciting footy last year to work their way into the top four, but were hurt by injuries to key players at times throughout the season which meant we didn’t see their best 22 for extended periods.

They also spent considerable time away from home due to COVID, which is another factor worth considering when looking back at their results.

If they can get some of their young players back from long-term injuries and continue the high-level of output from their experienced campaigners, you can expect to see them being a premiership contender again in 2022, particularly if they are able to play their fair share of home games at the Gabba.

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In terms of trades and drafting, the Lions grabbed Darcy Fort from Geelong for a future third round pick to provide support to Oscar McInerney in the ruck after the retirement of Archie Smith.

Grant Birchall has also retired, opening up a half-back spot. It recently emerged that they’ve parted ways with Cam Ellis-Yolmen, after he didn’t meet the requirements for COVID vaccination which could open up more midfield opportunity for young players.

The Lions had a couple of top 20 picks in the 2021 draft, grabbing Vic Metro defender Darcy Wilmot and Vic Country forward Kai Lohmann, but I wouldn’t expect either to feature prominently in the Lions’ senior team straight away.

Eric Hipwood is the only major injury on their list currently, rehabbing the ACL injury he sustained in the middle of last year. He’s expected to be returning around the middle of the 2022 season, which will be a huge boost to the Lions if they can keep the rest of their list healthy.

News emerged this week that Zorko has gone in for ankle surgery and will miss both of Brisbane’s pre-season matches. He is however expected to be back in training next week and available for Round 1 at this stage.


B: Darcy Gardiner, Harris Andrews, Noah Answerth
HB: Daniel Rich, Marcus Adams, Brandon Starcevich
C: Mitch Robinson, Jarryd Lyons, Hugh McCluggage
HF: Lincoln McCarthy, Dan McStay, Dayne Zorko
F: Charlie Cameron, Joe Daniher, Darcy Fort

Foll: Oscar McInerney, Lachie Neale, Cam Rayner
I/C: Keidean Coleman, Jarrod Berry, Deven Robertson, Zac Bailey

Emerg: Jack Payne, Rhys Mathieson, Callum Ah Chee, Nakia Cockatoo

Injury concerns: Eric Hipwood, Dayne Zorko

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Top Price Guns

Jarryd Lyons // $640,100 // MID // 2021 Ave: 117.6

Lyon’s move to Brisbane from the Gold Coast continued to pay dividends last year as he racked up possessions and SuperCoach points to finish as the seventh-highest scoring player in the competition.

He looks to be a safe pick again in 2022, despite the fact he shares a midfield with so many other great players. He’s a real in-and-under type and as such never really gets tagged which is a huge plus compared to the likes of Zorko and Neale.

If you’re playing SC Draft, he has to be on your radar in the first round.

Dayne Zorko // $595,400 // MID // 2021 Ave: 109.4

Zorko was back to his very best in terms of SuperCoach output in 2021, playing that typical MID/FWD role we’ve come to expect from him which produced an average of 109.4 PPG.

There are two things that count against him to start this season, however. The first is the fact that he’s lost his DPP, so can only be selected as a MID (for now).

The second is his price – in 2021 he started at $525K, threw in a couple of sub-70 scores early on and as a result dipped to $485K at Round 7.

If you like him as a POD option, I would wait for his price to drop and grab him as an upgrade option when the dip comes because you’ll be paying top dollar now.

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Daniel Rich // $582,700 // DEF // 2021 Ave: 107.0

He’s been a frustrating SC player to own in years gone by, but you would have had no such issues in 2021 if you had Rich in your team. The back flanker racked up disposals everywhere he went, ranking 1st in the AFL for total kicks, kicks per game, total meters gained and rebound 50s.

He looks a solid option again in 2022, albeit you’ll be paying top dollar for him at $582K.

It will be interesting to see if opposition teams put more time into him this year, or if they’ll let him run around on his own. I wouldn’t expect a 107 average again, but he should be safe for 95+ at least.

Another player to consider in the early rounds of SC Draft if you play that version.

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Hugh McCluggage // $544,100 // MID // 2021 Ave: 100.0

The Suitcase is one of the up-and-coming prime movers in the AFL, and if he played for a Victorian club I’m convinced he would get more hype from media and fans than what he does up in Brisbane.

He plateaued a little last year from a SC perspective, dropping his average by 1.5 PPG over the course of 2021 compared to 2020.

It looks as though he’s starved for opportunity at times being surrounded by so many other prominent midfielders and so his disposal efficiency has to be quite high for him to score well.

Improved accuracy in front of goal (he kicked 15.22 last year) would also boost his scoring. Probably not someone you’d consider for Classic, but would be a nice late-round Draft selection if he falls that far.

Lachie Neale // $543,200 // MID

I’m really interested in Neale as a starting option this year.

He never really got going last year, throwing in some low scores to start the season when he was dealing with a back complaint and then an ankle injury wiped him out for five weeks mid-season.

He looked better in the back half of the year, posting some big tonnes, but by that stage most coaches at the top end of the overall standings had traded him.

At just $543K I think he’s well under his true value if he can get back to somewhere near his peak form like we saw in 2020.

All reports are that he’s ripping it up in Brisbane’s match simulations, which is promising. He’s in my team currently at M4.

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Zac Bailey // $459,900 // MID-FWD

I think we’re starting to see just what a weapon this guy will be for Brisbane over the next decade.

Averaged 18 touches and goal per game last year and there’s no reason why those stats won’t keep tracking north in 2022 as he starts to play more through the midfield.

Like most young players, he’s still developing from a SC point of view – while Bailey racked up 10 scores of 90 or more in 2021, he also had five scores of 61 or less so the thing to keep an eye on is his consistency of output.

He’s a bit too risky as a starting option to my eye, particularly with Rayner coming back into the team, but if you were looking for a POD player in your FWD line you could do a lot worse.

He’s a player I’ll be monitoring as a potential FWD upgrade option.

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Bargain Bin Buys

Cam Rayner // $278,600 // MID-FWD // 2021 Ave: NA

By all reports Rayner has trimmed down and is looking strong this pre-season which is great news for those of us looking for a mid-priced F3/4.

While he missed all of 2021 with an ACL, it’s probably fair to say prior to that injury Rayner hadn’t hit his straps from a SC point of view.

But the wheel looked to be turning for him in 2020 where he played 15 games for an average of 73.1 PPG, which was a near 30 point increase on his 2019 average.

I’ll be keeping a very close eye on him for the remainder of the pre-season, not just in terms of how he’s tracking with his body but also the role that Chris Fagan has him playing.

If he’s going through the midfield and kicking goals up forward, then lock him in. The Lions do have some similar players however (think Dayne Zorko and Zac Bailey), so his selection will be heavily dependent on time on ground (TOG) and where he’s playing on the field.

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Jarrod Berry // $268,500 // MID

This guy was a regular in Brisbane’s best 22 before injury interrupted large parts of his 2021 campaign and couldn’t get a decent run at it with just nine games to his name.

Berry’s season averages were tracking in the right direction prior to last year though, averaging a career-high 97.1 PPG in 2020 from 15 games.

If he can get back to full fitness ahead of Round 1 and looks to be a lock for the Lions’ best 22, I think he’s a nice mid-price (bordering on rookie-priced) selection.

His ceiling is what appeals to me – in 2020 he knocked out six scores of 120+. If he can catch fire early and post some healthy scores, expect him to make a stack of cash prior to the mid-season byes.

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Rookie Gems

One player worth keeping an eye on over the remainder of the pre-season is Keidean Coleman ($263,200 DEF-FWD), who by all reports has been training across half-back to replace the retired Grant Birchall. He’s a bit pricey to be a genuine ‘rookie’ pick, but we saw with Changkuoth Jiath last year that these sorts of players can flourish in that half-back role.

Aside from Coleman, given the Lions are firmly in the premiership window it’s hard to see too many kids emerging as genuine rookie options early in the season.

Chris Fagan has shown a tendency to blood young players when the opportunity arises, but this is often for 1-2 games to replace a more experienced player who might be injured, just to give them a taste of AFL level.

I’d be keeping an eye on the Lions’ training and practice match information to see if there are any newbies featuring prominently.

Michael Whiting from AFL Media covers both Queensland teams and often posts great information from Brisbane training sessions on Twitter.

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