Brisbane Losing Youngsters Isn't So Bad

The Brisbane Lions have lost a few youngsters during the trade period but the situation isn't as bad as people in the public eye have made it out to be.

Herald Sun writer Sam Edmund had given the Lions a rating of "F" and they were the only AFL team to receive that mark.

Youngsters Billy Longer, Sam Docherty (pictured), Elliot Yeo, Jared Polec and Patrick Karnezis have gone and in return, Jackson Paine, Trent West and Luke McGuane have arrived at Brisbane. 

Admittedly the off-season hasn't been an easy time up in Brisbane. There is a new board present and Bob Sharpless has become the chairman.

Sharpless spoke to David Schwarz on SEN 1116 and when asked about Longer, Docherty and Yeo, who were drafted in 2011, he replied: "unfortunately [in] that particular draft, there [were] probably some players in hindsight that we probably shouldn't have taken".

I disagree with the Sharpless' sentiment but I don't agree with Edmund's belief that they were losses. Longer, Docherty and Yeo were first-round draft picks but Brisbane's squad hasn't been turned upside down because they have departed.

Longer was a disappointment during his tenure at the Lions. He looked outclassed in most ruck contests and he made little impact when he was rested in the forward 50.

Docherty was perhaps used too often as a sub, which isn't ideal for defenders. Former Lions coach Michael Voss would have been better off using a midfielder or forward as a sub but some besides Josh Green, who also could should have been a regular starter. 

Brisbane had been using players like Jed Adcock, Pearce Hanley, Ryan Harwood and Yeo has running defenders so one idea would have been to put Hanley in midfield or at HFF in order for Docherty to start matches.

Yeo is probably the biggest loss out of the five because he was a more regular starter for the Lions than the others. He was a useful half-back flanker and looked more promising than the other departures. 

Aside from homesickness, it's strange to see Yeo go to the West Coast Eagles. Now that John Worsfold has left and Adam Simpson has become the Eagles' coach, this West Coast side is surely going to be one in a transition phase.

Polec and Karnezis were selected in the 2010 National Draft and they too were first-round draft picks. Both players could have been exciting forwards but Voss didn't play them enough.

Maybe new coach Justin Leppitsch shouldn't have let them go but based on their efforts so far, their departures shouldn't be considered as disastrous. 

Polec looked like he was a mix of Josh Green and Daniel Rich. He was like Green because of his pace and flair and he was like Rich because he has a good left foot and he can play on the left-wing. Somehow he struggled to break into the Brisbane team.

Karnezis' case is more bizarre. He had some good performances as a forward and in this year's NAB Cup, he played well on the right-wing. Once the regular season arrived, Voss rarely used him.

Whether those two were homesick or Voss didn't use them properly, losing them hasn't been a good thing but based on their track records, maybe moving to their home states could bring the best out of them.

Brisbane hasn't recruited impressively like other teams but not all is lost. Paine might be given a chance as a key forward, taking pressure off Jonathan Brown in the forward 50 and there might be less need for Daniel Merrett and Brent Staker to play up front. It remains to be seen if Paine can give the likes of Stefan Martin and Jordan Lisle a wake-up call.

West is an ideal pick-up because he was never a regular in what is still an excellent Geelong team and the Lions need a back-up for Matthew Leuenberger in the ruck. This could be West's chance to shine.

Some people might be scratching their heads as to why McGuane went to the Lions. Leppitsch was an assistant coach at Richmond, McGuane's former club and the former Tiger wanted to be united with him.

As absurd as this may seem, he could be the next Zac Dawson. It sounds like an ugly tag and Dawson is a player that wins little admiration from fans. Ross Lyon has managed to make him perform certain tasks for St Kilda and for Fremantle with success and perhaps 'Leppa' will do the same with McGuane at Brisbane.

Most teams in the AFL did well during the trade period and Brisbane did catch the public's attention because the Lions have let go of five first-round draft picks. Despite the losses, it doesn't mean that Brisbane would have been successful if the quintet stayed on. 

Carlton and Melbourne in the last decade have proved that recruiting a plethora of first-round draft picks won't guarantee success. Clubs like Geelong and Hawthorn have shown that shrewd recruiting is the way to go.

Brisbane's deals during the trade period may not be an example of shrewd recruiting but a club needs to recruit players that fit the missing pieces and a coach needs to understand the characteristics of his players to mould them into a competitive side.

Leppitisch didn't go after any stars during the trade period but the current crop of players were capable of making many comebacks this season and came close to making the finals.

Players such as Tom Rockliff, Jack Redden and Rich should be approaching their prime, the likes of Leuenberger, Dayne Zorko, Green and Rohan Bewick can keep progressing and the likes of Adcock, Merrett and Staker will provide valuable experience. This Brisbane side is clearly not the finished product but there is potential and its up to 'Leppa' to show that he can make this list of players finals contenders.

Promising youngsters have gone but it does not mean Brisbane has been left with nothing. Perhaps Edmund felt like giving someone an "F" for the sake of it and Brisbane happened to be that team.