BRISBANE coach Chris Fagan has some difficult selection decisions ahead, with injury and poor performances marring Thursday night’s heavy loss to Collingwood.
Vice-captain Harris Andrews and young midfielder Rhys Mathieson both suffered hamstring injuries in the 62-point loss and would be highly doubtful to play Gold Coast in nine days.
And that’s not the end of it for Fagan.
After a blistering 3-0 start to the season, Brisbane has been blown away by Essendon and Collingwood in successive weeks, with only a handful of players able to hold their head high in each match.
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Fagan conceded he would have to take a serious look at the make-up of the team.
“I probably don’t want to discuss who should go in or out of the team tonight,” he said.
“The NEAFL team play tomorrow (Friday), they’ve been in pretty good form, so there’s some guys there that would obviously be a chance for next week.
“We won our first three games so there was no need to change the team, you lose one, so you think you give them another chance, we’ve now lost two, so we have to have a look at the team.”
— AFL (@AFL) April 18, 2019
Ryan Bastinac was dropped after the first three wins and speedy defender Zac Bailey hurt his hamstring in round three, otherwise the Lions have been unchanged.
Tom Cutler, Cedric Cox, Lewy Taylor, Ryan Lester, Ben Keays, draftee Noah Answerth and key position players Connor Ballenden and Sam Skinner could all push their cases in the NEAFL.
There are problems in most parts of the ground, although as Fagan rightly pointed out, it started in the midfield against the Magpies.
It is the fourth straight week the Lions have lost the contested ball count, although two of those have been quite close.
Brodie Grundy dominated in the ruck and his midfield capitalised, particularly after half-time.
“The last two weeks, not good enough,” Fagan said of Brisbane’s contested ball work.
“It’s drifted away from where it was and where it was over pre-season, so it’s something we have to find a way to get back on track with.”
Then there’s the defence. Not blessed with much speed to begin with, the Lions’ back six didn’t help themselves by turning the ball over time after time after time.
Collingwood counter-attacked with speed and efficiency and marked the ball inside 50 on 25 occasions, often uncontested.
Darcy Gardiner kicked poorly for Brody Mihocek to swoop and kick the game’s second goal and that seemed to set the tone.
Fagan said Andrews’ injury “might not be that bad, we don’t know how long he’ll miss but I think he’ll miss some time”.
— AFL (@AFL) April 18, 2019
“Although we’ve been excited by the 3-0 start, there’s a lot more improvement to come in this group,” he said.
“Nights like tonight remind you of that and you go back, you learn from it and try to come out a better unit.
“The bottom line is we’re three wins and two losses and that’s as good a position as this club’s been in for a long, long time at the start of the season.
“We’ve got to regroup ourselves and get going again.”