Brisbane’s Dan Merrett says he’s still coming to terms with retired Lion Jonathan Brown not being beside him in the club’s forward line.
It’s been nearly three weeks since Jonathan Brown called time on his AFL career but Brisbane’s Dan Merrett says it still feels strange to take to the field without his long-time teammate.
Merrett has become the Lions’ main forward following Brown’s retirement, leading the club’s youngsters in the two games since the `Lion King’ called it quits.
The 29-year-old says the team is still coming to terms with life without Brown.
“With Browny going, he’s such a big personality and such an integral part of the team, not having him out there is quite strange,” Merrett told AAP.
“There is a bit of a hole out there.
“You’re never going to really replace Browny because he’s such a one of a kind player and a legend of the game. It’s about everyone in that little group picking up a bit more slack and working together as a team.”
Merrett says he’s happy to take on the leadership role within the club’s forwards, especially when it comes to showing them how it’s done on the field.
“Obviously you end up getting the number one defender so that makes it a bit harder,” he said.
“Being a senior player it’s only natural to take more of that leadership role and with a young forward like Michael Close, helping him out as well.
“We’ve got a pretty young forward line with all our smalls as well. A lot of my job is organising and setting up but then also giving a contest and having a target up there for the boys to kick to.”
The Lions host West Coast on Saturday as they aim to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointing loss to Richmond.
Coach Justin Leppitsch has made one change to the team which lost to the Tigers with Mitch Golby coming into the team for his 50th AFL appearance.
Golby is coming in for suspended midfielder Tom Rockliff, whose absence means with injured trio Matthew Leuenberger, Daniel Rich and Jack Redden still sidelined the Lions face the Eagles without four of their regular starting midfielders.
The Eagles have made five changes to the team which lost to Sydney last weekend.
Josh Kennedy is suspended but Nic Naitanui was among the group which flew to Brisbane on Thursday.
“They’ve obviously got a bit more star power than us but we love playing at home and they’ve got to travel from Perth as well, if the effort’s there we’ll be in the contest,” Merrett said.
“It’s just a matter of making the most of our opportunities which we were probably lacking a bit against Richmond.”