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Player Reviews: No. 31 - 35

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 24: Sam Mayes of the Lions in action during the 2016 AFL Round 18 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium on July 24, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 24: Sam Mayes of the Lions in action during the 2016 AFL Round 18 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium on July 24, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)

It's time for the next part of our 2016 Player Review series.

Today we're looking at players with guernsey numbers 31-35.

#31 Harris Andrews

In 2016 Harris Andrews continued his climb up the ranks as a future star in the Brisbane Lions’ defence. In just his second year, the 19-year-old was often required to take on the top forwards in the competition. The big man averaged 10.3 disposals, 5.8 kicks and 4.5 handballs a game, he was also named in the 22Under22 squad of 2016.

Coach’s notes:

In just his second year of AFL Footy, he basically had to change his role up from what he did last year due to Clarkey (Justin Clarke) going down with injury. He took the best or second best forward each week. Statistically he had the same impact as 2015. Hopefully we can bring in some new players around him next year, which will enable him to go back to playing the third tall, and allow him to be more of an intercept player for us. His leadership obviously went to another level this year and hopefully he can make a step forward in that area again in 2017. 

#32 Sam Mayes

In 2016, Sam Mayes built upon a strong pre-season to nail down a spot on the half-back flank. In a career-best Season, Mayes averaged a total of 17.7 disposals, 6.3 handballs and 11.4 kicks per game. Mayes’ best game came in Round 14 against Richmond, where he finished with 27 disposals, with a disposal efficiency of 80%, while also gaining a team high of 500 meters. He re-signed midway through the Season, making him a Lion until at least the end of 2019.

Coach’s notes:

Sammy played 21 games for the Season, missing just the one game. He finished just outside the top 10 in the Best & Fairest. His ability to run and carry from half back and gain meters was a big impact for us - his best Season to date. Another one who has been rewarded with an extension of his contract for three years, and moving forward we see him being a mainstay in our backline.

#33 Michael Close

Michael Close played a total of two games for the Lions in 2016 after recovering from a Season ending ACL injury in 2015. He was quiet in his first game, but in his second game against Carlton, he showed what we can expect from him in the future, as he finished with five marks and four goals against the Blues.

Coach’s notes:

Close played two AFL games for the Season after coming back from a knee reconstruction. He kicked four goals in his second game against Carlton and showed his ability to take contested marks. Unfortunately, he was injured later in the Season meaning he missed the last two games, but what we saw in Closey was his ability to come back from injury and hopefully with a pre-season under his belt can get more body, size and agility work through his game. With Schache and Hipwood, he helps provide us with three promising tall forwards moving forward.

#34 Jonathan Freeman

It was a disappointing Season for Freeman, who battled injuries throughout the majority of 2016. He played in our Season opener against West Coast but was omitted the following week and managed just three more senior games for the Season. Playing in the NEAFL, Freeman’s best game was against Sydney University in Round 7, where he finished with four goals. Freeman will be looking to hit the pre-season hard and will hope to cement a position in the Lions’ forward line next year.

Coach’s notes:

Freeman missed a lot of footy this year through injury, playing four AFL games, and around eight or nine at NEAFL level. Freeman will look to get his body right and have a big pre-season and hopefully we can see big things from him in 2017.

#35 Ryan Lester

In just his sixth year in the system, Brisbane Lions utility Ryan Lester is considered one of the most experienced players on the Lions’ list. He was a solid contributor for the Lions in 2016, playing a total of 19 games, bringing his career tally to 80 games played. This Season Lester averaged 11.8 disposals, 5.9 handballs and 5.8 kicks.

Coach’s notes:

Ryan ‘Froggy’ Lester finished in the top 10 in the B & F - It was probably his best year to date. He played mainly as a defensive forward for us and had some good jobs early in the Season playing on the likes of West Coast’s Shannon Hurn, and Carlton’s Sam Docherty to name a few. Towards the back half of the Season he moved into the backline out of necessity due to injuries. Froggy is a versatile player who can play forward, back or midfield.

More Player Reviews

  Numbers 1 - 5

  Numbers 6 - 10

  Numbers 11 - 15

  Numbers 16 - 20

  Numbers 21 - 25

  Numbers 26 - 30

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs