Simon Black
Simon Black

Brisbane coach Michael Voss has defended his decision to use veteran midfielder Simon Black as the substitute in the Lions' 48-point loss to Richmond.

In a shock move on Saturday night, the 2002 Brownlow medalist became arguably the highest-profile sub since the rule was introduced at the start of last season.

In his absence, the Tigers enjoyed free reign in the middle, dominating the clearances 51-37 on their way to a convincing win at the Gabba.

When Black eventually removed the green vest midway through the third quarter and entered the game for Patrick Karnezis, he was so effective that Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said he had to tag him.

He ended up with 15 disposals and two clearances, and was a central figure in the Lions' failed last-term comeback.

Black's manager, former Lions spearhead Alastair Lynch, was none too happy about the move, describing it as 'staggering' pre-match.

"Simon Black is probably one of the greatest Brisbane Lions of all time - 300 games, and he's had some injury problems, that's for sure," Lynch told ''Fox Footy'' before the match.

"But he's still one of their most important players for the team. He's not one of those burst players who comes on who's going to tear the game open.

"He's more a player that's going to construct and grind his opponent into the game. That is certainly a strange selection."

The 33-year-old has struggled with various injury problems this year but remains a key player for Brisbane.

But former team-mate Voss staunchly defended his decision, saying it was in the best interests of both club and player and was not motivated by tactics.

"We've got to manage Blacky's body," he said.

"We will try everything to make sure we can get some value out of him, and every now and then it might mean that we have to play him as a sub.

"Sometimes you have to tell the competitor (you're) looking after him.

"He's got challenges during the week. He doesn't train much but we want him out on the park.

"If I can get a little bit out of him, rather than not at all, I'm going to do it.

"He's a champion of the game and his value is unquestioned in our football team."

Voss said that coming off a six-day break and a gruelling trip back from Perth, he was faced with only two options.

"It was either sub, or he doesn't play," Voss said. "The third choice wasn't a full game. There was no third choice.

"Would I play him four quarters? Yes I would. But we've also got to manage his body until the end of the season.

"The choice is either that, or we don't play him at all - and I'd rather have Blacky for a quarter and a half than not at all."


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