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Brisbane Lions star Jack Payne racing clock to be fit against Carlton Blues


“In years gone by we’ve probably been a bit more match-up based. We’ve gone away from having those tight match-ups to playing a system.”

The Lions’ ability to call on the next man up and maintain their winning has been crucial, as epitomised by the season-ending injury to Will Ashcroft.

A Rising Star favourite prior to his ACL rupture in Round 19, the wunderkind’s loss in the midfield raised alarm bells as the likes of Lachie Neale were shut down the following week by the Suns.

Will Ashcroft’s season-ending injury highlighted the Lions’ huge ‘next man up’ mentality shift in the back end of the season.Credit: AFL Photos / Getty Images

Since then, however, the men in the middle have been formidable – the likes of Hugh McCluggage moving from his wing and imposing himself more on the contest.


Harris lauded the efforts of the midfield in restricting the danger inflicted upon the defensive unit, highlighted two weeks ago when the Power were kept to 16 fewer inside 50s.

And the wounded Ashcroft said pride kept them firing when one man went down.

“We pride ourselves on the contest and having a really strong, united brand in there, so that was also tough to have that taken away – that week-to-week battle with them,” Ashcroft said.

“That’s always been our focus, and we understand we have a pretty good midfield group. When I came out, there was that next-man-up mentality and everyone has picked up that void and started playing really good footy as a unit.

“That’s what we always wanted to do, have that really strong deep midfield that no matter what happens – if Lachie is having an off night, or if someone comes out – then our midfield is deep enough we can cover that and still play good footy as a unit.”

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