Jonathan Brown knows a thing or two about winning premierships with Brisbane but Lions great says he can't see a way the current side can do it with key forwards Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood at the helm. Brown reached 'legend' status at Brisbane after helping the Lions claim three consecutive flags during an era of dominance in the early 2000s.
However, the AFL great-turned analyst has given his beloved club a brutal reality check, after writing off the Lions' premiership credentials with Daniher and Hipwood as the side's main goal threats. The pair have combined for just seven goals and three contested marks in an underwhelming start to the season for Brisbane, who are one win from two.
Those stats are a far cry from the form in 2022 that saw Daniher and Hipwood combine for 64 goals to help Brisbane reach the preliminary final. Daniher kicked the match-winner in a sudden death clash with Richmond and Hipwood was the star with four goals in an upset win against Melbourne a week later.
A key ingredient from that Lions roster is missing this season though after Brisbane lost power forward Dan McStay to Collingwood, with Jack Gunston arriving from Hawthorn to take his place. Brown concedes that the loss of McStay is proving a difficult hole for Brisbane to fill, and can't see how the team's current key forwards can inspire the side to premiership success.
"Three contested marks between Hipwood and Daniher for the year, that's a terrible return," Brown told Fox Footy. "He (McStay) seemed to be the bullocking, straight-down-the-line type forward that was able to contest and compete.
"Any key forward needs to be reliable and predictable to his teammates and I'm not seeing (that) in Daniher and Hipwood at the moment." Brown admitted that he was in "serious doubt" about whether Daniher and Hipwood would ever reach the level required to win a premiership.
The Lions rank 14th in points scored through three games, managing just 72 and 53 in losses while exploding with 83 points in three quarters before a Gabba power outage in their win over the Demons. Co-captain Lachie Neale said it was too early to hit the panic button in Brisbane and backed his side to rediscover their attacking consistency.
"Round one was just a shocking day, round two we scored pretty well until the lights went out and then last week we didn't make the most of opportunities," Neale told reporters on Tuesday. "It's probably not a trend; we know that we can score quite heavily."
Brisbane co-captain refusing to panic
Neale says he's sure Daniher expects more from himself after an underwhelming performance in the round three defeat to the Bulldogs, but isn't paying too much notice of the criticism being levelled at his side. "I haven't tuned into too much this week, I know that Joe was probably disappointed with how he performed on the weekend," Neale added. I'm sure he'll put as much effort in as he can to put in a good one on Thursday."
The Lions host premiership heavyweights Collingwood on Thursday night, with defender Daniel Rich (quad) at long odds to return after he trained separately to the main group to begin Tuesday's session. Neale also backed Hugh McCluggage to respond after quiet games in both losses, highlighted their rebound defence as a crucial area to improve and talked down the absence of a specialist ruckman for the Magpies.
Mason Cox and Darcy Cameron will both miss, leaving Billy Frampton and McStay to contest the bounce with Brisbane talls Oscar McInerney and Darcy Fort. Neale pointed to McStay's ability to plug a gap for the Lions when McInerney was injured in last year's win over the Tigers.
"It doesn't mean we're going to dominate that area of the game, but we'll have a look at some ways that we can try and exploit it," he said.
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