FOLLOWING an interrupted pre-season, one of Brisbane's lesser lights is now ready to take on a role as important as any in the Lions' quest for a premiership in 2023.

Jack Payne, the 197cm defender entering his sixth season, had his tonsils removed in January, causing him to lose 5kg in weight and a couple of weeks of training.

However, after a steady build to regain his strength, the 23-year-old was terrific in pre-season wins over Sydney and Geelong and is ready to anchor Brisbane's key defence alongside co-captain Harris Andrews.

And he'll need to too, with the Lions missing reliable duo Marcus Adams (concussion) indefinitely and Darcy Gardiner (Achilles) for the immediate future.


Speaking to at the Lions' season launch, Payne said he knew the coming season presented a great chance to not only nail down his spot, but have an impact on winning games.

"The past few years I've been fighting to get that opportunity against Marcus and 'Dizzy' (Gardiner). It's really disappointing for Marcus to go down, he's been a great member of the team, but it presents a great opportunity and one I'm very much looking forward to," Payne said.

"I feel like the more games I play, the better I'm gelling with the back six and my teammates and getting greater belief. I just feel like I belong.

"That's going to be the task for me this year, playing a full AFL season, because past years I've been in and out. It's going to be a big year and I can't wait."

Payne has played 27 games in the past three seasons, which have included five finals. He was called into the 2020 preliminary final against Geelong after Gardiner was a late scratching, and the following year against the Western Bulldogs in a semi-final he was asked to play as a forward to cover the losses of Eric Hipwood and Dan McStay.


Last year following the concussion to Adams against Carlton in round 21, he played the final five games.

Payne's pre-season hasn't been without hiccups though, as the Brisbane Academy product decided to get his tonsils removed, on the advice of doctors.

Over the past 15 months the tonsils would become inflamed, causing him to feel run down, lethargic and "not wanting to move off the couch".

He had the procedure in mid-to-late January. Barely able to eat or drink over the ensuing days, Payne lost 5kg from his 104kg frame.

"After day five I started to progress, but it was a long week," he said.

Not only did Payne need the next two weeks to slowly put the weight back on, which he did, he also had to avoid contact, as any knock to the throat could cause complications.

After playing in the final Lions' intraclub, and marking everything that came in his zone, the man born on Queensland's Sunshine Coast got both pre-season games in and excelled.

He said backline coach Jed Adcock and new development coach Dale Morris had played a big part over the past few months.

"I've been sitting down with those guys and doing my edits from each game, and they've been helping me a lot and giving me pointers," he said.

"Those guys I can rely on heavily.

"Dale Morris was a ruthless defender, you'd hate to play on him as a forward. He's got so many ideas that I'm learning off him.

"Coming into round one the club's in a fantastic position, and I can't wait for next Saturday."