Although it is only March, the undefeated Brisbane Lions sit second on the NAB Cup ladder and appear to have found a formula which may see them return to the top eight for the first time since 2009.
The Lions are simply roaring, oozing class on the field and Michael Voss is oozing class from the coach’s box. They started their summer campaign with a strong 21-point victory against the 2012 Grand Finalists in Hawthorn with new recruit Brent Moloney starring, tallying 11 disposals. In their second match of Round 1, they comfortably defeated Gold Coast by 33 points.
In the second round of the NAB Cup, the Lions narrowly defeated a strong GWS side by three points. What was impressive was the inspiring performance by young Brisbane forward Aaron Cornelius, who kicked five goals in the match and has played two of the three games this summer. In four seasons at the club, Cornelius has only played 22 games for the team and the signs are looking ominous. Standing at 192cm, Cornelius can play forward and he can also be used as a strong-bodied defender. However, Cornelius isn’t the only Lion to be up and about.
Daniel Rich may finally have that breakout season that everyone has been waiting for. He has had 10 disposals in each of his two NAB Cup games so far and was named in the bests both times. With former Demon Moloney helping him through the midfield, Rich looks ready to lead the new Lion brigade. With Simon Black the sole survivor from the Lions’ champion midfield in the early 2000s, Rich, Moloney, Dayne Zorko, Tom Rockliff and Jack Redden look set to be the new star midfielders.
Captain and champion centre half-forward Jonathan Brown has not been used during the NAB Cup and the Lions’ forward line has been shuffled around. Potential star Zorko has showed his smooth moves up forward by kicking three goals and two super goals whilst Patrick Karnezis and Jordan Lisle have also had opportunities in the forward line, kicking one goal each.
Karnezis has been one of the most impressive players for the Lions. At 190cm, he amassed a staggering 26 disposals and a goal against GWS. He has played 18 games over his first two seasons and just like Cornelius, looks ready to break into a youthful Brisbane team.
The Lions have found a balance in their side, even though it is only the NAB Cup; they haven’t relied on their superstars of Brown and Black and have given some kids vital experience. The established players are doing what they do best and they could potentially have some breakout players in Rich and Cornelius. If the Lions can continue to find that balance, they will certainly be knocking on the door of the top eight.
Voss will be having sleepless nights this year unless he can keep this formula intact, as his head is on the chopping block. It has been rumoured that Voss needs to lead the Lions to finals or at least finish right outside the eight. The board and committee will be asking questions if he doesn’t, though everything is smooth sailing at the moment.
Even though it is only the pre-season, the Lions look ready to have a strong 2013 season. This positive start may be a surprise to some but the Lions may have finally found their roar again.