Ryan Lester has lived his football life by the simple rules of taking nothing for granted and always making the most of his chances.

2021 provided further evidence of that.

The veteran defender was sub for the Lions’ semi-final against the Bulldogs and when he got his start, following Jack Payne’s removal from the game due to a head injury, he provided the biggest highlight of his season, at the opposite end of the ground from where he has become a pillar for senior coach Chris Fagan.

01:20 Mins
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Best of 2021: Lester & Fullarton

Ryan Lester was someone you could rely on down back this season and Tom Fullarton came in and worked hard to play his role for the team while Hipwood and McStay were out.

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Lester’s classy left foot crumbing third quarter goal was pure class, and wouldn’t be out of place in Charlie Cameron’s highlight reel.  

The fact Lester was named sub, after missing the previous week with a hamstring injury, shows the trust Fages and the other coaches have in him.

It is because so much of what Lester offers goes unnoticed outside the Lions.

He’s always up there with one-percenters and is an under rated mark in the defensive 50m.

He was important in the Round 3 win against Collingwood, with 16 possessions, nine marks and six tackles, but the lingering memories from that game are Zac Bailey’s after-the-siren goal and a couple of big marks from Joe Daniher and Charlie.

He played a huge game in the dogfight against the Blues.

His act of courage to drop into the hole and place himself in the path of wrecking ball Harry McKay earned him one of the nastiest looking lumps in his lower back you’ve ever seen and the ongoing admiration of his teammates.

He didn’t appear in the match reports or best players in either game. 

02:51 Mins
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Lester Reaches 150

Ryan Lester plays his 150th game in QClash 20. Hear what some of his teammates have to say about the milestone man.

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The one week the focus was on the man they call Frog, he got injured.

It was his 150th game and a hamstring injury early in the season’s first QClash meant he was forced to watch from the bench as the Lions routed the Suns by 72 points at Metricon Stadium.

Tom Fullarton added 12 games to the two he managed in 2020 and took another promising step in his development.

With established forward Dan McStay missing the first month Fullarton started the year in the side.

It took him a couple of weeks to find his feet in the forward line and he was then thrown into the fire to lead the ruck against Collingwood in the absence of Oscar McInerrney.

Former All Australian Brodie Grundy had a big day out but there were obvious learnings for Fullarton who started to use his mobility to gather a career high 17 possessions.

He had to bide his time and wait for another chance upon McStay’s return and it came after Eric Hipwood suffered a season ending ACL injury in Rd 17.

Fullarton played the final eight games and enjoyed some solid form in games against Gold Coast, Hawthorn and Fremantle.

However he battled throughout the finals after McStay was once again hurt leaving with the responsibility of holding down a key post in the absence of the two mainstays of the Lions’ forward line in the Fagan era in McStay and Hipwood.