Bombers defeat a motivation for AFL Lions

A heavy loss to Essendon was one of the few moments to forget in 2019 for Brisbane and Lions coach Chris Fagan is eager to set the record straight.

CHRIS FAGAN, senior coach of Brisbane.
CHRIS FAGAN, senior coach of Brisbane. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Last year's 47-point AFL defeat to Essendon may have happened more than 15 months ago, but it hasn't been forgotten by Brisbane coach Chris Fagan.

Before Friday's clash with the Bombers at Metricon Stadium, Fagan said reviewing that rare lowlight in a largely stellar 2019 campaign had been a key part of his team's preparations.

The second-placed Lions are aiming to consolidate their top-four status by defeating Essendon and Fagan clearly hasn't erased the hurt of last year's MCG mauling.

"We're coming up against a really good midfield and they get Dylan Shiel back as well, he's a great player," Fagan said.

"I remember back to last year's game they gave us a lesson in round four in that area of the ground.

"Our blokes are looking forward to that challenge and we know it's gonna be a tough one."

Both teams head into the round nine clash with injury concerns.

The seventh-placed Bombers are without Joe Daniher (groin), Jake Stringer (ankle), Jayden Laverde (ankle), Orazio Fantasia (calf) and Cale Hooker (calf).

Kyle Langford (suspension), Conor McKenna and Shaun McKernan (both managed) will all miss the Lions clash while Mitch Hibberd has been dropped.

Star Bomber Shiel returns from suspension, while former Lion Tom Cutler and youngster Brandon Zerk-Thatcher have been called up.

On Thursday the Bombers confirmed ruckman Sam Draper will make his AFL debut following a successful recovery from a knee reconstruction, while James Stewart will end a 790-day wait for AFL action.

Lions forward Dan McStay will be serving the first match of a two-game ban for a high bump on Melbourne's Neville Jetta while Archie Smith (ankle) has joined first-choice ruckman Stef Martin on the sidelines.

Key forward Connor Ballenden will debut, while fellow tall Sam Skinner will play his first AFL game since 2017.

Alex Witherden, Noah Answerth and Cam Ellis-Yolmen have also been recalled, with Thomas Berry dropped.

Daniel Rich (hamstring) and Ryan Lester (hamstring) are also out with the Lions facing a test of their depth they didn't face during a largely injury-free 2019.

"It's always the case but teams win matches and squads win premierships so you need depth in your squad," Fagan said.

"That's what we hope we can prove that we have this weekend."


AAP