WILL Ashcroft has taken another step towards a round one debut with an eye-catching display at Brisbane’s match simulation session on Friday afternoon.
With a host of senior Lions resting, Ashcroft was part of the main midfield rotation, racking up plenty of disposals and kicking a goal in sweltering conditions at Hickey Park.
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The No.2 pick from last year’s NAB AFL Draft found space at will, made good decisions with ball in hand and used it wisely by both hand and foot.
The teenage son of triple premiership Lion Marcus was not the only midfielder to impress, with Josh Dunkley and Lachie Neale also dominant in the 3×20 minute scrimmage.
Dunkley was responsible for the game’s first clearance and has quickly formed a good relationship with ruckman Oscar McInerney and Neale.
Neale, the 2020 Brownlow medallist, had an ideal mix of inside ball-winning with outside use, as he spread quickly to take advantage of Dunkley’s grunt work.
Prior to the hitout midfield coach Cameron Bruce was full of praise for Dunkley following his move from the Western Bulldogs.
“He brings a hell of a lot of pressure. His hunt and repeat efforts at the contest are something that will certainly complement our mix,” Bruce said.
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“Will Ashcroft … he’s really clean and his work around congestion and composure at such a young age is impressive.”
With regular midfield options Dayne Zorko, Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Berry all rested, Ashcroft, Dunkley and Neale were a class above as Chris Fagan orchestrated a virtual ‘best against the rest’ simulation.
Former Hawthorn star Jack Gunston also shone, kicking three goals, and showing his smarts on a number of occasions, including one great back lead into space that got on the end of a penetrating Zac Bailey kick.
One notable positional switch was Cam Rayner playing in defence, although with Jack Payne and Darcy Gardiner sitting out, it’s possible Brisbane wanted some height in its back half, along with further defensive education for the former No.1 pick.
Joe Daniher was strong in his first hitout following off-season shoulder surgery, leaping freely for his marks and in one instance standing under a high ball with oncoming traffic to show his body was in good order.
Brisbane will have two more intraclub hitouts before its unofficial match simulations against Sydney on February 24.