Lions heed lessons to spark AFL finals run

·2-min read

Dayne Zorko's response as Brisbane captain since that loss to Melbourne in their last regular-season game is only part of the story behind the Lions' unlikely AFL finals charge.

Coach Chris Fagan conceded the heavy loss and ugly fall-out to the captain's tear-inducing sledge had served as a moment in time for him too ahead of Friday's preliminary final against Geelong.

A pre-finals bye allowed the Lions, who had slumped to sixth, to take stock before producing contrasting but equally impressive finals wins over Richmond and Melbourne in the next fortnight.

Zorko's leadership and performance now has his critics applauding, while Fagan's bold selections and in-game tactical adjustments have worked wonders.

"You live and you learn and it's helped Zorks really focus on what needs to be focused on," the coach told media on Thursday.

"We chatted after the (round-23) game, about the opportunity that first final against Richmond would present not just the team but him as a leader.

"It's how you respond that decides what sort of leader you are."

The club's response has been tactical, too.

The retention of fleeted-footed trio Darcy Wilmot, Deven Robertson and Callum Ah Chee ahead of veterans Mitch Robinson and Jarryd Lyons has given Brisbane's defence a different look that helped turn the tide against the Demons.

Jarrod Berry was also moved to Clayton Oliver in the second-half on Friday, silencing the Demons weapon and touching the ball himself 22 times.

"The ability to run has been something we've put a high priority on and based a bit more selection off that," Fagan said.

"In some of our losses during the year we got that feedback on our team ... that (loss to Melbourne) was the final bit of evidence we needed.

"It was very difficult; those guys have been so good and I am loyal."

Zorko doesn't buy into the narrative, insisting he's sought to learn more from three years of short-lived finals campaigns rather than what happened at the Gabba last month.

But he does concede he has approached the past fortnight differently.

"In previous finals I've fallen victim to not doing enough and letting our younger kids take control," he said.

"One thing I've done in the last two games is understood the moment, what's needed and let my football do the talking.

"In the past I've encouraged with words and not got in and done actions.

"Leaders need to stand up with actions in these moments, there's no point talking about it."