tmedia
Skip to main content
Main content

Burning Questions for 2014: Brisbane


Will 2014 be a successful year for new Lions coach Justin Leppitsch?
Will a new board give incoming Lions coach Justin Leppitsch the base from which to launch a run for the 2014 finals?
Photo Source: Getty Images

Will stability lead to success?

With one former club champion in Michael Voss unceremoniously sacked as coach in August, another will take charge, with a third alongside him. Justin Leppitsch, who spent three years as an assistant coach at Richmond, will lead Brisbane, with Simon Black as his forwards coach after the veteran midfielder retired following the 2013 campaign.

Leppitsch is well-placed to make an impact, and although we would have said the same thing about Voss, the Lions might just come out of the pre-season with a bit of stability. Leigh Matthews is back at the club as both a football director and a board member, and Leppitsch will lean on his former coach heavily, just as he has done since his retirement.

The five years under Voss never seemed to have a true direction, with finals the aim but their young stars like Tom Rockliff and Daniel Rich only able to take over when the 'win now' attitude failed in 2010. So many players have left since then, including Lachlan Henderson, Mitch Clark, Michael Rischitelli, Jared Brennan and Justin Sherman.

With Black, Todd Banfield and the go-home five of Sam Docherty, Elliot Yeo, Jared Polec, Patrick Karnezis and Billy Longer all departing, the 2014 season will bring a renewed focus on developing the team around a fresh batch of youngsters and free agents. The Lions have helped No.7 pick James Aish and his fellow draftees settle in Brisbane as their first pre-season begins, while picking up Luke McGuane to help out in defence and up forward as well as Trent West to combine with Matthew Leuenberger should bring more success than trades under Voss.

Where will the goals come from?

When your team misses out on the eight and a new coach comes in, change is inevitable. Leppitsch has plans to play ageing star Jonathan Brown deeper in the forward line. And it makes sense. Brown has led Brisbane's goalkicking in five of the past seven seasons, but his 28 goals from 15 games in 2013 were a far cry from the dizzying heights of the 78 in 2009, or even the 53 in 16 games in 2010.

Just as Nick Riewoldt showed for St Kilda last season, being a veteran doesn't mean your production is lowered. The Saint, who kicked a club-high 50 goals, led the league in marks with his highest average per game since 2009. With more help coming from midfield and the half-forward line, Brown can focus on drawing defenders deep and kicking some bags.

Will Hanley reach another level?

Despite failing to rate too well in the Brownlow, Pearce Hanley played like a star in his sixth AFL season and just missed out on his club's Merrett-Murray Medal. The Irishman averaged almost five marks and inside-50s per game, and his 71 per cent disposal efficiency was higher than that of Brent Stanton, Dane Swan, Patrick Dangerfield, Kieren Jack and even Gary Ablett. Hanley is a hard runner and somehow just knows where to be on the football field, but his ability with the ball in hand must play a greater part in his 2014 campaign. Thankfully, he knows it.

"I'd like to play through the midfield more. I'm going to work closely with Andrew Raines, who tags for us, to learn how to deal with taggers and how to work through it."

Hanley works just as hard off the field as he does on it, and with some of the departures freeing up space in the middle, there's every chance he will lead the club there and confirm his status as the league's best Irish expat.

Can they finish above the Gold Coast?

Brisbane won just two games more than their Queensland rivals in 2013, but sat below Gold Coast on the ladder for much of the season. The Suns are obviously on the up with a number of talented players reaching their potential, but the Lions are probably still a step ahead in key areas. This will be a subplot worth watching, with the Suns trailing 5-1 in the poorly-named 'Q-Clash' since 2011.

Follow SportsFan on Twitter: @sportsfan_live

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of SportsFan.


YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

The Year in Pictures - Part 2

The Year in Pictures - Part 2

All the biff, bluster, brutality and brain snaps from part two of our round-up of 2013's best images in sport.

Defender Grant Birchall has re-signed with Hawthorn until the end of the 2017 AFL season.
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: Hawthorn

BURNING QUESTIONS: Can Hawthorn buck history and go back to back, is losing Buddy a disaster and how important is Ben McEvoy?

Former Geelong coach Mark Thompson will fill James Hird's boots for season 2014
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: Essendon

BURNING QUESTIONS: How do the Bombers recover from a horror 2013, how will Thompson structure the forward line and will the Dons back the dinosaur?

With Leon Cameron taking over from Kevin Sheedy and a number of star recruits, including ex-Pies defender Heath Shaw, could GWS finally be on the up?
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: GWS Giants

BURNING QUESTIONS: How many games do the Giants win, can Jeremy Cameron win the Coleman and will Shaw keep himself in check?

Does Gary Ablett even have another level to reach?
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: Gold Coast

BURNING QUESTIONS: Will the Suns be a top-eight side in 2014, can Ablett get any better and is it game over for Karmichael Hunt?

Is there a bright future for Ken Hinkley and his young Port Adelaide team just around the corner?
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: Port Adelaide

BURNING QUESTIONS: Did the Power fluke their surprising run to the semi-finals in 2013, what will Jared Polec bring and how difficult is their new draw?

St Kilda coach Alan Richardson has finally won his first role in charge of a club, but what is a pass mark for the club?
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: St Kilda

BURNING QUESTIONS: What is a pass mark for the Saints, what is Alan Richardson's biggest challenge and which of the new faces will have the biggest impact?

Paul Roos has the toughest task of all in the AFL as he takes charge of the Melbourne Demons, but will he tarnish his legacy?
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: Melbourne

BURNING QUESTIONS: Will Paul Roos tarnish his legacy, can Jack Watts deliver and will the midfield fail again?

Bulldogs ruckman Will Minson has signed a two-year contract extension with the AFL club.
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: Western Bulldogs

BURNING QUESTIONS: Will Adam Cooney's good form continue, how will Ryan Griffen go as captain, how important is Will Minson, and is Stewart Crameri the answer?

Will Patrick Dangerfield win the Brownlow in 2014?
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: Adelaide

BURNING QUESTIONS: Will the Crows get out of no man's land, could Dangerfield win the Brownlow and will their forward line fire?

Will 2014 be the last roll of the dice for Matthew Pavlich and the Dockers?
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: Fremantle

BURNING QUESTIONS: Is this the last roll of the dice for the Dockers, what do the recruits bring and which young player is about to break out?

Buddy Franklin takes a breather during his first training session with the Sydney Swans
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: Sydney

BURNING QUESTIONS: Does Buddy make the Swans unstoppable and are there still roles for Lewis Jetta and Adam Goodes?

West Coast forward Josh Kennedy just might win the Coleman Medal this year
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: West Coast

BURNING QUESTIONS: Will the Eagles rocket back into the top eight, what is Adam Simpson's biggest challenge and will Josh Kennedy win the Coleman?

Jack Riewoldt (L) could find less ball coming his way if Richmond intend to use Shaun Hampson as a regular marking forward
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: Richmond

BURNING QUESTIONS: Can the Tigers win a final, has Riewoldt got another Coleman in him and can the backline stay fit?

North Melbourne's Lindsay Thomas is arguably the best small forward in the competition
AFL Lowdown

Burning Questions for 2014: North Melbourne

BURNING QUESTIONS: Will the cutting edge return, what happens to Brad Scott if they fail and can their brilliant core step up?