The Lions are in dire need of a key position target as soon as possible to fill a growing void in their forward line, and the man for the job may well be Jordan Lisle.
Lisle, turning 24 this season, is a tall, strong marking forward who in five years on AFL lists – three with Hawthorn, two with Brisbane – has played just the 18 games, kicking 16 goals in the process.
Though lacking regular game time Lisle has been solid in his appearances with the Lions, managing eight or more disposals in all eight games at AFL level last season and only going goalless once – against Carlton in round nine.
He also averaged a respectable 1.5 contested marks and 1.6 marks inside Brisbane’s forward 50 during the AFL season, as well as kicking two bags of three goals against two sides notable for their high defensive qualities in Fremantle and Geelong.
Outside of that, he was prolific in Brisbane’s reserves, kicking 48 goals for the season. Kicking over three goals a game in a second-tier league is all well and good, but the time is nearing for Lisle to translate these high outputs to AFL on a regular basis.
It comes with the ageing of Jonathan Brown who, despite averaging nearly two goals a game last season, is under the threat of injury due to his age and playing style, playing just 69% of Brisbane matches in the past four years.
Turning 33 this year, Brown will not be there forever, with coach Justin Leppitsch noting his doubt over his availability for round one. When the moment comes that he calls time on his career there needs to be a ready-made, strong forward capable of filling the void.
That forward has at times been Daniel Merrett, who swung forward and kicked 14 goals in the last eight rounds of 2013 to go with his 26 goals in 2012. But turning 30 in December means Merrett up forward is little more than a temporary fix and incoming coach Justin Leppitsch will want someone capable of holding down the position for a few years to come.
Lisle fits in well when considering the other candidates. Luke McGuane is a decent size and at 27 years old is the right age. However, he has only played 51 games in his past four seasons with Richmond and whether he can string enough games together to settle Brisbane’s forward woes is up in the air.
And beside Brown, Lisle and McGuane, the other forwards over 190 centimetres are all under 21 years of age and, outside the 11 total games of Jackson Paine and Marco Paparone, are all yet to make their AFL debut.
Lisle is the only player on the list at the right size and age and with sufficient experience playing against senior bodies. Turning 24 means he should be entering the prime years of his career. Though he has work ahead of him, there’s no reason why he can’t string games together to settle himself into a role Brisbane desperately need to fill as soon as they can, and thus become a focal member of the Lions’ side for years to come.
You can follow Ethan on Twitter at @ethan_meldrum.