Brisbane coach Chris Fagan says the Lions’ current injury woes could prove a blessing in disguise for a team in search of greater depth.
The Lions enter Saturday night’s heavyweight clash against Port Adelaide at the Gabba without not only Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale (ankle), but also concussed defender Darcy Gardiner and midfielder Jarrod Berry (groin).
Throw in the absence of forward Cam Rayner (knee) for the entire season and Lions are suffering their biggest injury crisis for some time.
Not that Fagan seems to mind, with the Lions’ mentor saying it was “good for us”.
“If you want to be any good you’ve just got to deal with those sorts of things,” he said.
“What’s happening now is other players are getting an opportunity and we need to build our depth, and you only really find out about players if they get a chance to play AFL.
“We’ve had a couple of years where we haven’t had a lot of injury, had really strong, consistent form, so we’ve never had to change our team a great deal.
“I see this period of time as one where we can build that depth and discover some more players that can actually help us in what we want to do down the track.”
Those players include Rhys Mathieson, who is set to replace Neale this weekend.
“Rhys has been knocking in the door for two years I reckon,” Fagan said.
“He’s had an amazing attitude, he’s been a great leader among our reserves players, so he’s right in the frame.
Fagan admitted the Lions were “battered” after their 18-point win over Carlton last Saturday night but said his players had “recovered well”.
“We were a bit sore the next day but … we’re ready to go again,” he said.
“We don’t feel like we’re just hanging in because we’ve had a couple of hard weeks.
“We believe that we’re fit and ready to go.”
And the Lions will need to be against a Power outfit Fagan said was arguably the competition’s most “in-form” team.
Port are in the third place with five wins from six matches, while the Lions sit mid-table as one of four teams with three wins and three losses.
“They’re an incredibly well-rounded side. Other than the one loss they’ve had this year to West Coast, their form’s been impeccable,” Fagan said of the Power.
“You’ve got to be on your game to beat them. We think we have the capacity to do that, but we have to play very well.
“That’s a big job for us to look forward to.”