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NEAFL side going from strength to strength

Jess Webster,   June 19, 2017 3:05 PM

Brisbane’s AFL side may be on the bottom of the ladder but the future at the club is incredibly bright, according to Brisbane Lions NEAFL Coach Mitch Hahn.

The Lions have manufactured an incredible turnaround from last year, where they ‘won’ the wooden spoon after a lengthy injury list contributed to only three wins in the NEAFL.

Fast-forward 12 weeks into a new season and the Lions have fielded a full side of AFL-listed players for the second consecutive week, and notching up their eighth win of the season with a big victory over Southport on Saturday.

Hahn has implored the club’s supporters to ‘hang in there’, pointing at a young, enthusiastic playing group in the NEAFL as evidence of the club’s impending rise.

“A lot of these guys have been starved of wins in the past few years, so to have a young group - and for them to have that feeling - is really important,” Hahn said.

“You look at the good teams like the Western Bulldogs, their VFL team were able to win a premiership when they did, and Geelong and Collingwood did the same.

“We’re certainly on the right path, and if we can continue to challenge and get ourselves up there for NEAFL finals, and play good consistent footy, then we know we’re on the right track with the football club.

“For our supporters, they have got to be able to hang in there. They have got to be really excited with what they’re seeing, because we certainly are as coaches.”

Brisbane consolidated third place on the NEAFL ladder at the weekend with Rohan Bewick (31 disposals, three goals), Josh Schache (five goals), Josh Walker, Tom Bell and Alex Witherden all key contributors in their victory.

The Lions made no changes to the AFL side this week after a morale-boosting win over Fremantle, and the added pressure of the NEAFL side continuing to perform has placed the club in good stead.

Hahn said his job is to cause headaches at the selection table each week.

“That’s what we’re trying to build here, is a competitive environment where we can put in good performances, and the seniors can also,” Hahn said.

“The performance that we put in (against Southport), there were some guys who have really put their hand up. But if the seniors have 22 players who played well, then it becomes a tough decision.

“That’s what our job is – to develop these players but to also make the selection process for the seniors that much harder.”

Since a shock loss to Redland in Round 7, the Lions have won four in a row with matches against the GIANTS, Sydney University and Aspley before their next bye.

With a relatively young list still developing at NEAFL level, Hahn said the experience and knowledge the senior players have provided has played a big role in their early success this year.

With a big emphasis on building a winning culture at all levels of the club, pushing for a premiership in the NEAFL for the first time since 2013 would be hailed achievement.

“We’re a really young list so it’s important to develop those players early on in their careers, so when they are in the system for three or so years and are seniors players, they can educate the players below them,” Hahn said.

“With where we’re at with so many young players, the education process for us after every game is really important.

“We’ll look at how we get better as a group, and a lot of that is driven by the top – with ‘Fages’ and the senior coaches – and that flows on to us.

“We’re going to have our ups and downs throughout this period, but we’re tracking in an upward direction, and that’s what we’re really after.”

The Lions will host the GIANTS at South Pine Sports Complex in Brendale this Saturday from 12pm.

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