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McCarthy roaring to life

Finally, Lincoln McCarthy can be judged solely on his football output.

After seven years of injury interruptions at Geelong, the 25-year-old has not missed a beat since arriving in Brisbane last November, playing all 17 games and becoming a key contributor to the second-placed Lions.

McCarthy says he has "so much more improvement" in him, and based on his form of 2019, that's a mouthwatering prospect for Lions fans.

After a great start, followed by a pre-bye lull, the quietly-spoken South Australian has roared to life during Brisbane's five-game winning streak.

His mix of power through traffic, nous around goals and pressure on the ball have all been on show.

 

McCarthy said it was nice to finally concentrate on improving as a footballer and not as a rehab patient.

"Every article about me – and it's fair enough – has been about the 'injury-plagued Cat'," he said.

"That's all I've been linked to the last seven years.

"In a small way you get a little bit sick of that.

"It's not something I could always control.

"Now that I'm not injured and playing, I get sick of that term, but I understand I am coming from an injury history.

"I'm just really grateful I'm able to train and play each week."

Brisbane's medical staff took a slow-and-steady approach with McCarthy, nursing him through the pre-season with the clear aim of having him ready for round one.

McCarthy started with a bang in Lions colours, kicking four goals in the opening-round upset over reigning premier West Coast.

His best patch of form has come since the bye, which is no surprise.

Not only is McCarthy refreshed – this is by far the longest stretch of successive games in his career – but he feels more settled with Brisbane's style of play.

He's bumped up his midfield minutes, giving red-hot Jarryd Lyons an occasional breather by moving on-ball.

His value both around the contest and inside 50 has been on full display, averaging 19 disposals (nine contested) and kicking seven goals in the past five victories.

He was particularly dynamic in successive road wins against Greater Western Sydney (22 touches, seven clearances and three goals) and Port Adelaide (20 touches, eight tackles and two goals).

 

"Building that connection with teammates – obviously they're all really good blokes – but you've got to find out how they tick, what motivates them and how to work in with them and make sure everyone's happy," he said.

"That's been good fun and part of a new journey.

"Even when a certain player gets a ball from a stoppage and looks up, what type of kick do they like to do?

"Do they like to kick short or go long? Those things take time, and I feel during the back half of the year I'm starting to figure out a little bit more.

"I still think I've got so much more improvement in me."

The move north was purely a "football decision", but not even McCarthy can believe how well it's going so far.

"I was watching Brisbane a fair bit last year when I started thinking of leaving Geelong. They were a team I thought was on the up.

"In terms of coming here, I didn't expect us to win so many games in the first year.

"You have your expectations, but you don't know how it's going to play out, better or worse. But at the moment we're sitting top four, and I certainly didn't expect that.

"It's time to make the most of this opportunity and keep pushing forward."

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