Brandon Starcevich’s start to the 2019 season can only be described as frustrating. During the Lions pre-season match against Melbourne at Casey Field he suffered a severe hamstring injury which sidelined him for eight weeks and required surgery.
He returned via the NEAFL in their Round 8 clash against GWS GIANTS at Maroochydore. That afternoon the skilful midfielder/winger had 9 disposals and two marks. Over the coming weeks he produced some solid form, including his 24 disposals and five tackle performance in Round 12’s win over Sydney Uni in Blacktown.
The 20-year-old was recalled to the senior side for Round 15’s match against Melbourne. That afternoon he had seven disposals and two marks. Unfortunately, that was his only AFL game for the year.
He went on to play 11 NEAFL games and played in their premiership win over Southport Sharks on the Gold Coast.
Starcevich is signed until the end of the 2021 and will be aiming for more senior matches in 2020.
Connor Ballenden enjoyed consistent form in the Lions undefeated premiership in 2019.
The 20-year-old gained invaluable on-field experience, alternating between the ruck, backline and the forward line.
One of his strongest performances for the year was Round 20’s win over GWS GIANTS where he booted three goals, took six marks and had 14 disposals.
Ballenden kicked one goal in the NEAFL’s Grand Final win over Southport and became oen of just a handful of players who played in both the 2017 and 2019 NEAFL premierships.
The former Hyundai Help for Kids Academy product extended his contract mid-year, remaining in the Den until at least the end of 2021.