Roos' guns to test young Lions defence

Murray Wenzel

Brisbane's improved defence will contend with a three-pronged North Melbourne barrage on Sunday that Lions coach Chris Fagan is confident they're ready for.

The Kangaroos have defied critics to clock up a 6-4 start to the AFL season, while the Lions (1-9) have strung together many brave losses for little reward.

Powered by the competition's leading goalkicker Ben Brown (33 goals), Jarrad Waite (22) and most recently Mason Wood (10 in four games), Brad Scott's side sit fifth ahead of their Etihad Stadium clash.

Fagan is well aware of the threat they pose up front but says in promising 21-year-old defender Harris Andrews and developing back Darcy Gardiner, 22, they are equipped for the challenge.

Harris is statistically among the best defenders in the AFL this season while Fagan has lauded Gardiner's discipline after admitting his "mind used to wander".

"They're probably both having their best seasons ever," Fagan said.

The versatile Gardiner kept Lance Franklin to a solitary goal in their match-up last weekend and was also impressive on GWS's Jeremy Cameron and Gold Coast small forward Jack Martin.

"Early days his (Gardiner's) mind would wander a bit and he'd get a bit annoyed about things that would happen on the field," Fagan said.

"I just think he's ... starting to believe he can play on these guys."

The 22-year-old said he had benefited from a "sit down" last season that changed his ways.

"I realised the things you do cost the team badly," he said.

"It was something I had to address and it's made me a lot more aware ... he (Fagan) backed me in and gave myself a bit of belief."

Tipped to struggle by many this season, North Melbourne beat Fremantle in the west last weekend and have conceded the fewest points of any team this season.

But Scott said the Roos' "evolution" had not changed their approach, despite being hot favourites to roll the Lions.

"The challenges keep coming even though people could be fooled into thinking Brisbane ... have been pretty average," he said.

"They've been really impressive in patches in games ... the addition of Charlie Cameron has given them a lot of spark.

"If they get on top they're a dangerous offensive team."