There was a lot to like about Cam Rayner this year.

He might not have been in Brownlow Medal contention, but it was still a strong season, particularly given he returned from a ruptured ACL injury.

The 23-year-old registered career-best, or equal best numbers across all statistics – from games played, goals, tackles, and total disposals.

But nothing reminded people more that Rayner is a former No.1 draft pick than his best-on-ground performance against St Kilda in Round 22.


As the Lions looked far from convincing, Rayner stood up on the big stage of Friday night football under the bright lights at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium.

Rayner booted four second-half goals to not only carry the Lions to victory, but to show exactly why the Club took him with their prized first pick in 2017.

It was that match-winning performance from the talented forward that gave Brisbane fans and the Club some reassurance he was recovered and ready to deliver.

That game wasn’t the only occasion the powerful forward-midfielder had Lions fans out of their seats.

Round 6 against the Gold Coast SUNS was one of the first encounters where Rayner used his strength and ability to help his side take out the win.


Rayner racked up 20 disposals, five marks and three clearances capped off with a goal.

Fittingly, it was at Metricon Stadium, the very venue where he ruptured his ACL the previous year – with the performance exorcism any potential demons.

His biggest game ‘by the numbers’ came in his first match on Canberra’s Manuka Oval, where he recorded a career-best 25 disposals and kicked a goal against GWS.

Rayner was named as one of the Lions’ best players in yet another game that gave himself, the Club, and its fans a lot to smile about.

After setting a strong foundation in his return season, Rayner looks primed to hit the ground running in 2023.