IN THE space of seven days, Brisbane sharpshooter Zac Bailey went from coughing up blood and being helped from the MCG to turning in a match-shaping performance against Carlton at the Gabba.

The 22-year-old was subbed out in the second quarter of the Lions' loss against Richmond following a Marlion Pickett hit and stayed in Melbourne overnight so doctors could assess the damage.

It wasn't good – coughing up blood isn't – but thankfully for Bailey it wasn't bad either.

After training lightly last week, he exploded to life in the 33-point triumph over the Blues, kicking four goals in his best performance since the mid-season bye.


Speaking to following the win, Bailey was nonchalant about his injury, but conceded he didn't cop contact to the affected area until game day.

"We just needed to check and make sure there was no puncture while I was still in Melbourne," he said.

"Because we were flying it can cause problems if you're in the air with a punctured lung, and the fact I was coughing blood, we just wanted to get it scanned and checked out.

"I had some blood in the airways and that's what I was coughing up, but it's all good.

"It was a pretty cruisy week once I got back to Brisbane.


"I did a couple of laps on Tuesday and even on Thursday I did main training but stayed out of the contact stuff, so I guess the game was my first real contact."

Bailey's season has somewhat mirrored Brisbane's.

He shot from the gates like a greyhound, kicking 16 goals in his first six matches and 26 in his first 12.

However, following the Lions' bye in round 13, Bailey caught COVID-19, missed the following week's match against Melbourne, and has battled to recapture his best form since, kicking just two goals in the five matches prior to Sunday.

He said the illness was not a problem, conceding he had just been down on form.

"I wouldn't say it had a massive impact," he said of having COVID.

"I think it's always the next week you might be a bit off, but I turned that into more than one week. I've had a pretty poor couple of weeks."

In about a third of his usual match-time against Richmond, Bailey showed some signs of turning things around, gathering nine disposals and having five score involvements.

Against the Blues he emphatically announced his return, zipping in-and-out of traffic, finding creases in the forward line and finishing his work with four goals and two assists from 19 disposals.

What happens in the final fortnight of the home-and-away season and then into September is what really matters, Bailey says.

"It is the exciting part of the season and we're treating the next few games like finals.

"We probably haven't played our best footy, so we're trying to get back to that over the next few weeks."