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New Lions set ease tagging pressure for Zorko

Four-time best and fairest winner Dayne Zorko is still improving and will be "wiser" for a challenging 2018, Brisbane coach Chris Fagan says. 

Speaking with, Fagan said he also believed a stronger midfield – including star recruits Lachie Neale and Jarryd Lyons – would help take the opposition focus off Zorko.

Zorko won his fourth straight Merrett-Murray Medal last season despite being heavily tagged in most of Brisbane's games, averaging 21 disposals, kicking 26 goals and putting on a ton of pressure both onball and in the forward line. 

"I thought he was heavily tagged last year. He's got some good midfielders around him that might attract taggers or take the heat off him," Fagan said.

"I think he'll be wiser for the experience.

"There were games last year, and from a media perspective he might have only touched the ball 16 times and not had a good game, but the one thing that never changed with him was his pressure, he's one of the best in the game. 

"Lots of games where he had only 15 touches but had 30 pressure acts. That's a good thing.

"Sometimes when guys get tagged they give up – he doesn't."

Zorko will turn 30 on February 9 but has had arguably the best pre-season of his career.

Always a strong runner, the dynamic midfielder broke 10 minutes for the first time in his life at Brisbane's 3km time trial to narrowly trail home winner Jarrod Berry. 

"It's a great example to set to your teammates that he can do that," Fagan said.

The acquisition of Neale and Lyons – two of the competition's top-10 clearance players last year – and the development of Berry and Hugh McCluggage is starting to give Brisbane an excellent midfield mix of ball-winners and outside runners.

"Hopefully all the attention doesn't go to 'Zorks' and I think it won't," Fagan said. 

"I think you'll see the emergence of those players and it'll be tougher to stick a tag on a Lions midfielder next year thinking that's enough to get the job done. 

"I think that was possibly the (opposition) view last year, 'they've got Zorko, they've got (Dayne) Beams, so if you stop Zorko you've probably got them covered'.

"Guys like Charlie Cameron can run through there. (Cam) Rayner will do it more, there are good options. 

"The mix is there but they have to learn to work together and make each other better. 

"It's about the collective result, not one or two individuals.

"The mindset is along those lines. Time will tell when we play games.

"They seem more interested in the collective midfield performance than they are in the individual star syndrome that can happen. We're trying to move past that."

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs