Finals is Lions’ ultimate success: Brown
The Brisbane Lions have exceeded pre-season expectations and are one of the AFL's feel-good stories of 2019. But club legend Jonathan Brown says they can't waste their bright start.
The triple premiership player and captain of the club's last finals side said the club's 2019 goal of cementing in the building blocks of a future premiership side had been achieved.
Brown says the side had exceeded his pre-season predictions for wins and losses but by entering the bye inside the top eight it was fair to redraft those expectations.
"By no means am I sitting here at the end of the season if they didn't make finals and thinking it was a failed year,'' he said.
"I thought they were an 8-10 win side, but it is fair to say now it would be disappointing if they didn't make the finals from here.
"They have got 10 games to play, they need to win six, I don't think it is too much to ask and if they fell short they would be disappointed.
"You would think internally they have raised the bar.''
He has given full endorsement to the leadership of captain Dayne Zorko and the game plan devised by coach Chris Fagan.
And he can see progress on the two main development goals mapped out by Fagan - to be dominant at the Gabba and improve their contested football.
"I think they developed the game style to win premierships, it is a style of play that should stand up in September,'' he said.
"There are a lot of positives, they are being captained really well, they are a terrific forward half team and they are a great stoppage team.
"They play an exciting brand of footy. They would be hard team to play against because they can put a big score on.
"Their contested footy is a work in progress, it is improving but they still need to find greater consistency in that area but a big thing was getting home field dominance, that is a feather in their cap.''
Brown says the development of the elite young talent is on track and had created excitement but he thought the club deserved more credit for canny recruiting decisions with established players.
"The recruiting of mature age players has been underrated, it has been terrific,'' he said.
"It goes back as far as Mitch Robinson and Stef Martin or you could even say Zorko given he was mature ager who was overlooked in the draft.
"And right through to Lachie Neale and Jarryd Lyons this year and I think Marcus Adams is going to be a very good player.
"They have not missed with their recruiting and that really helps the young player develop.''
ANDREW HAMILTON RATES THE RUN HOME:
Brisbane are facing their most important game of the season when they return from the bye to take on St Kilda in Melbourne on Saturday.
The Lions let golden opportunities for coveted road wins slip through their fingers in their last three excursions away from the Gabba when they surrendered winning positions against the Western Bulldogs, Fremantle and Carlton.
It means they must keep a perfect winning record at the Gabba or find multiple victories on the road over the final 10 rounds to reach 13 wins - the figure required last season to make the top eight.
St Kilda at Marvel Stadium shapes as the best opportunity while their record against Hawthorn, at home and in Launceston in the past two seasons has been unblemished.
The Lions have been a very formidable side at home this season with the only blip an Easter Thursday meltdown against Collingwood.
However, Chris Fagan and his coaching panel would undoubtedly prefer to find some points away from home to avoid the potential situation of facing competition leaders Geelong in a do or die clash in round 22.
BRISBANE'S RUN HOME:
Rd 14 v St Kilda - Marvel Stadium. Must win.
Rd 15 v Melbourne - Gabba. Must win.
Rd 16 v GWS - Sydney Showgrounds.
Rd 17 v Port Adelaide - Adelaide
Rd 18 v North Melbourne - Gabba. Must win.
Rd 19 v Hawthorn - Launceston. Must win.
Rd 20 v Western Bulldogs - Gabba. Must win.
Rd 21 v Gold Coast - Gabba. Must win
Rd 22 v Geelong - Gabba
Rd 23 v Richmond - MCG