Sport Lions 'not battered' - ready to go again
The buck will stop with Chris Silverwood after Ed Smith's removal
RICHARD GIBSON: What this change in England's selection process has done is provide clarity for the head coach to ensure that there are no restrictions on him getting the side he wants. It has removed compromises on personnel. Crucially, excuses have gone too.Cricket is now in line with England's international football and rugby teams in that like Gareth Southgate and Eddie Jones, the buck ultimately stops with Silverwood.Previously, there was no consequence for poor selections, or real credit for good ones. One person in charge provides much greater clarity.
Don't let the injury list and black eyes fool you, Chris Fagan says his Brisbane side is ready to go again on Saturday against Port Adelaide.
The Lions will be without Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale (ankle) for at least six weeks, while midfielder Jarrod Berry (groin) and defender Darcy Gardiner (concussion) will also miss the Gabba clash.
Neale and Gardiner were casualties of a brutal win over Carlton last week that improved the Lions to 3-3, but also left Mitch Robinson sporting a stapled-up eye.
Can Carlton claim a must-win against the Lions?
Carlton will take on Brisbane in a must-win game at Marvel Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Blues enter this clash coming off a disappointing 28-point loss to Port Adelaide, while the Lions re-found some form last week, taking care of Essendon in a 57-point victory. As mentioned in an article I wrote earlier this week, I suggested that David Teague swing the axe and make some tough calls ahead of the Brisbane game. That he has, as Carlton will welcome back David Cunningham and Liam Stocker into the side for their first games of 2021. The duo starred for Carlton’s VFL side last weekend.
But Fagan said the Power (5-1) would be mistaken for thinking there was blood in the water.
"They might, but we're not battered," he said.
"We were battered in the game and a bit sore the next day, but we've recovered well and ready to go again.
"We don't feel like we're just hanging in after a couple of hard weeks; we believe we're fit and ready to go."
Brisbane enjoyed a charmed run of health last season on their way to a preliminary final but have copped their share of misfortune in 2021.
Cameron Rayner (knee) is out for the season while Noah Answerth, Ely Smith, Jack Payne, Cam Ellis-Yolmen and Archie Smith all have short-term injuries.
"I actually think it's good for us," Fagan said of their adversity.
"We've had a couple of years without a lot of injury and haven't had to change our team a great deal.
Brisbane's Neale fined for umpire contact
Brisbane star Lachie Neale has been offered a $1500 fine for an early guilty plea for making contact with an umpire in Saturday night's AFL game.Neale touched field umpire Matthew Nicholls during the second term of the Lions' win against Carlton on Saturday.
"What's happening now is other players are getting an opportunity and we need to build our depth and you only really find out about players if they get the chance to play AFL."
Fagan said a small defender may replace the taller Gardiner given Port's bevy of small forwards while Rhys Mathieson is the most likely replacement for Neale.
The ball-winner and goal-kicker was a patient AFL spectator last season while he dominated the second-tier and waited for his chance.
"Rhys has been knocking on the door for two years to be fair," Fagan said.
"He's had an amazing attitude ... he's right in the frame."
Back-to-back wins have been timely after a slow start but the Lions will be tested against a multi-pronged Port attack missing midfielder Travis Boak (quad) but boasting another small forward in Orazio Fantasia.
"Our players were proud of their effort (against Carlton) ... there wasn't anything in our favour and the boys found a way," he said.
"But the competition moves on; you can't sit back and pat yourselves on the back because we've got Port next and they're arguably the most in-form team in the competition.
"We've played really well the last couple of weeks but ... when the better teams play each other the games don't always end up being beautiful games of football.
"You have to scrap to win and with some rain around on Saturday it might be one of those games."
Ben Youngs explains his decision not to go on this summer's Lions tour .
EXCLUSIVE BY NIK SIMON: Youngs also withdrew from the Lions tour in 2017 due to personal reasons and despite being widely tipped for selection this time, he is sure of his decision.It is Saturday evening and Youngs has agreed to a last-minute interview, after hearing that word has reached The Mail on Sunday about his decision not to take part in this summer's Lions tour.