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Rayner's big step forward

Michael Whiting, AFL.com.au  July 18, 2018 3:36 PM

 - Brisbane Lions,Cameron Rayner

Cam Rayner says almost being dropped a month ago was the "kick up the butt" he needed to produce his best football.

Brisbane's coveted No.1 pick had shown glimpses of his talent in the first half of the season, but after a 10-disposal outing against GWS in Round 14, was almost axed. 

"He was probably lucky to stay in the side and he knew it," Lions coach Chris Fagan later revealed. 

Since then, the 18-year-old has exploded, earning a Rising Star nomination with 19 touches and two goals against Fremantle, adding 15 and a goal against Carlton and then arguably his best outing of the season against Hawthorn on Saturday with three goals among 19 disposals. 

All of which have come in Brisbane victories. 

Rayner has shown off all of his skills, mixing time between forward and midfield, taking contested marks, winning clearances, using his fend and then against the Hawks kicking the match-sealing goal on the run from 45m.

Speaking with AFL.com.au, Rayner had a simple response when quizzed about his near-axing. 

"I think that's the kick up the butt I needed just to get me going again," he said.

"I was probably getting a little complacent.

"Since then I've put my head down and kept working, chipping away at little things.

"I feel that in the last month I've taken a big step forward in my footy and it's a credit to the coaches who have a lot of trust in me, keeping me in the team, putting me in the midfield and things like that.  

"I've been lucky the coaching staff have backed me in."

Rayner is full of energy, politely spoken but lacks for nothing when it comes to confidence on and off the field. 

He's the young man who was happy to wear Jonathan Brown's coveted No.16 Lions guernsey but says the swagger he carries is not intentional.

"It's not something I go out there and try to do," he said. 

"When you're out there the moment just takes over and you do what you do since you were a little kid.

"I've been playing that type of footy since I was young and I'm probably not going to change it now.

"I think that just comes naturally."

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