New coach Justin Leppitsch says six spots in the Brisbane Lions’ best team remain up for grabs for next month’s AFL season-opener.
New Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch has revealed he’s yet to decide on more than a quarter of his best team six weeks out from their AFL season-opener.
Ahead of the Lions’ first NAB Challenge clash with Hawthorn, Leppitsch says six spots remain up for grabs in the pre-season build-up to their round one clash, also against the defending premiers.
His statement paints a clear picture of what’s on offer for a host of youngsters lining up at Etihad Stadium on Thursday night.
Leppitsch has left out all his big guns, except for vice-captain Tom Rockliff, and named a 29-man squad which features 24 players with less than 50 senior games’ experience.
The triple-premiership Lion, returning to the Gabba after his coaching apprenticeship at Richmond, said he was pleased with the way his troops have adapted to the game style he’s implementing.
But there’s still plenty to be decided in upcoming pre-season trials against the Hawks, Gold Coast and Sydney.
“I would have thought there was six positions that I’m still unsure of,” Leppitsch said on Tuesday.
“Whether it’ll be a revolving door through the year or whether someone’s going to stand up and grab those positions, that’ll be up to the players I guess.”
Former Geelong premiership ruckman Trent West, set to play alongside Jonathan Brown in the forward line this season, is among the handful of experienced troops selected for the opening hit-out.
Brown, who won’t appear in the pre-season, captain Jed Adcock, Daniel Rich, Pearce Hanley, Daniel Merrett, Matthew Leuenberger, Jack Redden and Joel Patfull are among the rested contingent.
Richmond recruit Luke McGuane and Collingwood signing Jackson Paine (shoulder) have also been left out of the squad.
Leppitsch listed both trade week acquisitions as chief contenders in hot competition for the third-tall spot up for grabs in the forward 50.
Under Michael Voss, Brisbane won the NAB Cup last year but Leppitsch isn’t fazed by the result in his senior coaching debut.
“It is definitely something we want to do, but we have to get the little wins, which is getting enough game time into our players before round one, it’s building their confidence in the game plan,” he said.
“(Come) round three or four it’s not going to matter if you won the first pre-season game or not.”