McStay gone but Lions see positive future

·2-min read

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan is resigned to losing out-of-contract forward Dan McStay over the off-season after the Lions crashed out of the AFL finals.

McStay went goalless from 10 disposals in the 71-point preliminary final thrashing from Geelong on Friday but was far from the only Brisbane player to have an off night.

The 27-year-old is a free agent and has enjoyed a strong season, kicking 25 goals as a target alongside fellow talls Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood.

McStay has not yet informed the Lions where he will be playing in 2023 but has been linked with a move to fellow preliminary finalists Collingwood.

"I don't know because Dan hasn't told me, but I would suspect if he was going to be a Brisbane player next year we would know that by now," Fagan told reporters.

"If Collingwood's the club, then Collingwood's the club.

"That wouldn't surprise me but we haven't had that conversation."

Brisbane are expected to be active in the trade market as they look to take the next step, having featured in four straight finals series without reaching a season decider.

Western Bulldogs midfielder Josh Dunkley is one mooted target, but Fagan was not prepared to comment on potential trades.

The coach was preaching a message of optimism to his Lions troops after a 17-8 season and second final-four finish in three years.

The September run included wins over the previous two premiers - Melbourne and Richmond.

But Fagan couldn't hide his disappointment about the season-ending loss to Geelong, conceding that "they outplayed us in every facet of the game".

"Their team defence was excellent, the way they moved the ball was outstanding," he added.

"It's hard to know whether the two finals that we played in, where we had to go to the wire every week, what sort of toll that takes on the group mentally and physically.

"I don't know, there perhaps is a toll when you've got to back up and travel again. Maybe we were pretty ripe for the picking."

Fagan said former No.1 draft pick Cam Rayner had likely suffered a regulation rolled ankle in the incident that led to him being substituted out of the Geelong clash.

Rayner will have scans to determine the full extent of the damage.

At least, the strong returns of Rayner and Hipwood from knee reconstructions were positives for Brisbane this year.