Two of the Brisbane Lions brightest prospects have extended their contracts, with defender Darcy Gardiner and Oscar McInerney signing on until 2022 and 2021 respectively.
In 2018 Gardiner had his finest season to date for the Lions, earning a reputation as one of the best up and coming defenders in the league. The 23-year-old’s fierce competitiveness often saw him assigned the toughest matchups each game.
In his fifth AFL
His brilliant performances on field and proud team ethic saw him rewarded with a fourth-place finish in the Merrett-Murray-Medal count and was recognised as the Club's Trademark Player of the Year.
Gardiner said he did not think twice about putting pen to paper.
“I did not hesitate at all to extend my contract,” Gardiner said.
“With Fages on board, I’ve felt the last few years the team is heading in the right, positive direction and it is something I want to be part of.
“I think in the next few years we’ll be challenging teams and it’s a really exciting place to be.
“The team has improved so much and we only grow with confidence each week.”
General Manager of Football David Noble commended Gardiner on his development this season.
"We are really pleased to extend Darcy’s contract now as we have seen him grow both on and off the field this year," Noble said.
"Darcy became a crucial part of our backline this year with his composure and ability to play various roles for us.
"With him extending his contract now, it will allow the continued growth of the backline of which Darcy fills an important role."
For rookie McInerney, 2018 was a dream come true.
In his second year with the Lions, the 24-year-old made his AFL debut in Round 6 and kept his spot for the remainder of the season. He alternated between the forward line and ruck and kicked 14 goals for the year.
“I was over the moon when my manager told me that the Club wanted me to sign on longer,” McInerney said.
“I really wasn’t expecting it, it just makes me so excited for next year.
“I still can’t believe I have realised a childhood dream of playing AFL and to then have the opportunity each week to contribute and play with the boys.
“I just love it up here.”
Noble also praised McInerney for his work ethic and contribution to the team.
"Oscar is a very popular teammate who works extremely hard at his craft both as a forward and a ruckman," Noble said.
"He bought a different dimension to our forward line this year and his contribution as a selfless teammate does not go unnoticed."
"He is an exciting talent that will only continue to grow and improve in the coming years."