McCluggage's aim to 'confuse' AFL rivals

Murray Wenzel
Hugh McCluggage is hoping his versatility can help Brisbane Lions to another level this season

Brisbane's Hugh McCluggage hopes more regular adventures into the middle and towards the goal square will confuse the side's rivals when the AFL returns this weekend.

The Lions will host Fremantle at the Gabba on Saturday, nearly three months on from the season's sudden pause thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

With so much external information to process, McCluggage said it was only this week that the squad honed their focus on pure football strategy.

But one of the AFL's most influential wingers last season said he had never stopped thinking about how to improve his game.

"I had patches in games (last season) at a high level and patches where I dropped off," he said.

"That comes with being able to playing a variety of roles and I played a fair bit of wing last year, but hopefully this year I can move more inside and go up forward when I need to.

"I can try and damage in a different capacity at stoppages ... it makes it a bit more confusing for the opposition and you can play a few tricks."

McCluggage managed 22 goals to go with an average 22 disposals last season on the wing - both career highs - with teammate Cameron Rayner describing him as one of the AFL's most underrated players.

Entering his fourth season, McCluggage's ability to pinch hit more regularly in the middle alongside Lachie Neale, Jarryd Lyons and Dayne Zorko would give them an extra edge after their remarkable rise to second last year.

"To be able to change it up and swap on field with different players is a huge advantage," McCluggage said.

They are looking for improvements too, after Hawthorn humbled them in round one.

"It's going to be bizarre, I'm not quite sure what to expect and everyone's on the same page," he said.

"Even though this is the second round it kind of feels like that (first round) again.

"We've got to (put the extraordinary circumstances of the AFL's shutdown aside and) get back to our game plan ... it's the biggest challenge and hopefully we can do it.