Although the 2016 AFL season has been a dismal one for Brisbane, there are some positive signs for the future thanks to some of the youngsters that are emerging.
The Lions lost to Richmond by 42 points on Saturday and collectively they played uninspiring footy but there were some young players who showed that they deserve to be in the senior squad.
If there was one youngster that appealed to me more than the others, it was key forward Eric Hipwood.
He scored 3.2 from just seven disposals in only his second game of AFL football, which is quite impressive when great forwards like Wayne Carey and Jonathan Brown had to wait for their sixth and seventh games respectively to score their first senior goal.
His fellow key forward Josh Schache has played 13 games this season and against Richmond he had just eight touches but he scored a goal and set-up three others.
Both Hipwood and Schache were selected by Brisbane in the 2015 AFL draft and Lions coach Justin Leppitsch said after the game against the Tigers that they would be Brisbane’s key forwards of the future.
Currently it seems that Brisbane lacks a clear gameplan but Leppitsch should encourage the rest of the Lions team to supply the duo with as much footy as possible.
Although they are both slender in build and under 20 years old, they need regular playing time and the midfielders need to believe that Schache and Hipwood are two reliable targets in the forward 50.
In midfield the experienced players are not making a huge impact on games but youngsters like Rhys Mathieson and Jarrad Jansen displayed moments of quality.
Mathieson played his third game of AFL footy against the Tigers and he has been criticised for ducking but he showed that he has some skills. He had 24 disposals including 14 contested ones and he had seven skill involvements.
Jansen was playing his fourth game for Brisbane and although he only had 16 disposals, 13 of them were contested. The former Geelong midfielder also had six clearances, with Tom Rockliff having more with seven.
Overall the defeat to Richmond was due to another insipid performance from Brisbane and the Lions had more room to play in the final quarter because the Tigers had slowed down.
It is important for the Lions to see these youngsters emerge though because a number of senior players have not been performing well recently so their spots need to be put under pressure. Injuries have also played a part but these kids have to make everything count and take their chances at senior level.
Brisbane is not expected to climb up the AFL ladder anytime soon but the likes of Hipwood, Schache, Mathieson, and Jansen showed offer signs of hope for the long-suffering Lions supporters.