Another top-four finish had the Lions well-placed for premiership contention last season, only for their finals exit to follow a similar tune Chris Fagan has heard in recent seasons.
A nail-biting yet heartbreaking one-point defeat to the Bulldogs ended Brisbane’s 2021 campaign, but their journey until then was one of great promise.
New recruit Joe Daniher had a strong first season in Queensland, while the likes of Jarryd Lyons, Zac Bailey and Daniel Rich all enjoyed career-best campaigns.
In: Darcy Fort, Darcy Wilmot, Kai Lohmann, James Tunstill
Out: Grant Birchall, Archie Smith, Connor Ballenden, Tom Joyce, Brock Smith, Cam Ellis-Yolmen
Clearances - 2nd
Contested Possessions - 4th
Tackles Inside 50 - 2nd
Disposals - 17th
Disposal Efficiency - 18th
Turnovers - 14th
Star player: Hugh McCluggage
The gun Lions wingman is part of a star-studded midfield ensemble at the Lions, with the three-time All-Australian squad member seen as one of the best outside ball-winners in the AFL.
McCluggage averaged career-high numbers for possessions, tackles, rebound 50s, inside 50s and clearances in 2021 and will contend for the nod as the Lions’ most lethal midfielder this year.
While Neale and Lyons are sure to demand the ball on the inside, they’ll be buoyed by the constant outlet McCluggage can offer from the wing.
One to watch: Cam Rayner
Making his return from a season-ending ACL injury, all eyes are on the former No.1 pick in 2022.
Tipped to make a move into the midfield, Rayner could be preparing for a breakout campaign as he sets his sights on a more senior role under Chris Fagan. Should the Lions finally see the potential Rayner has been touted to have, the emerging star could be a catalyst in Brisbane’s run for a premiership.
Under pressure: Rhys Mathieson
A self-claimed ‘barometer’ for Brisbane, Mathieson will be out to prove his worth under Chris Fagan this season.
The explosive onballer played 15 games last season, however seven of which came as a medical sub as Mathieson looked to cement his place in the best 22.
With further emerging names looking to stake their claim this season, the pressure is growing on Mathieson to deliver what has been promised.
The Lions will be among the top competing sides this year, with star talent littered across all three lines of their side.
After three straight seasons of high finishes, much of the same can be expected for the year ahead at Brisbane.
Entering the new season with perhaps a stronger list than yesteryear, the Lions could finally shake the shackles and land a grand final berth in 2022. Whether they can go the whole way is another matter however.
Five matches to watch
Round 4 vs. Geelong, GMHBA Stadium, Friday April 8
Round 6 vs. Gold Coast, Metricon Stadium, Sunday April 24
Round 14 vs. Melbourne, MCG, TBC
Round 15 vs. Western Bulldogs, Gabba, TBC
Round 18 vs. Gold Coast, Gabba, TBC
All time games
- Simon Black - 322
- Luke Power - 282
- Jonathan Brown - 256
- Daniel Rich - 246
- Daniel Bradshaw - 219
All time goals
- Jonathan Brown - 594
- Daniel Bradhsaw - 496
- Alastair Lynch - 371
- Jason Akermanis - 263
- Luke Power - 141
MOST DISPOSALS: Jarryd Lyons - 674
MOST TACKLES: Jarryd Lyons - 154
MOST CLEARANCES: Jarryd Lyons - 149
MOST MARKS: Harris Andrews - 181
MOST GOALS: Charlie Cameron - 55