Brisbane Lions AFL coach Justin Leppitsch says competition for spots in his team’s forward line means there’s no guarantee off-season recruit Luke McGuane has nailed down a starting spot for round one.
McGuane, who left Richmond as a free agent last year, kicked three first-quarter goals, including a snap with his first touch of the ball, on debut to help the Lions get off to a flyer in their 47-point win over Gold Coast in Townsville.
The Lions rarely looked troubled against an understrength Suns in their second games of the AFL pre-season, bouncing from a 131-point drubbing by Hawthorn 10 days ago to win 1-14-13 (106) to 0-8-11 (59).
Queenslander McGuane made a strong start for his new club, but Leppitsch said he couldn’t guarantee the 27-year-old a start against the Hawks next month.
“The thing (is that we’re) without our key forwards with Jackson Paine and Brett Staker and (Jonathon Brown) Browny so we’ve got a fair bit of competition in that part of the ground,” he said.
“There’s going to be a lot of pressure on for spots in our forward 50 this particular year so it’s hard to get an answer now.”
Brisbane kicked the first five goals of the game to take firm control, with one by Harley Bennell the Suns’ sole highlight as the Lions led by 33 at the first break.
Michael Close kicked a further three goals for the Lions while Jack Redden and Dayne Zorko added a pair each and the Lions never looked like losing.
The Suns showed some improvement in the middle quarters to make the game more of a contest and Bennell shone above his teammates to end the game with four goals along with 20 disposals and 13 kicks.
Gold Coast were without captain Gary Ablett, Michael Rischitelli, Jaeger O’Meara, Trent McKenzie and David Swallow but stand-in Suns coach Dean Solomon said they were lacking in some of their fundamentals.
“We were missing a few, there’s no doubt about that, but we were disappointed with the effort we put out,” he said.
“We expected a lot more than that and we’ll go review the tape and have a look but, our contested footy and around stoppages, we were quite average and we’re disappointed with that.”
Leppitsch said they had plenty of positives to take out of the win despite facing an understrength Gold Coast midfield.
“I think so because it’s the first time we’ve got together and we’ve actually put together the stuff we’ve wanted to,” Leppitsch said.
“Obviously the opposition will increase with every week and the intensity will increase with every week but it’s good just to be able to put in the things we’ve worked on in training into the game.”
The Suns will sweat on the fortunes of Timmy Sumner, who was reported for a second-quarter bump on Lions vice-captain Tom Rockliff.