Sports

Depleted Lions to host Essendon at Gabba


Covid-19 has sidelined Harris Andrew. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images
Covid-19 has sidelined Harris Andrew. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Defender Carter Michael will make his AFL debut as the Brisbane Lions continue to be decimated ahead of their clash with Essendon.

Backline star Harris Andrews on Friday became the eighth Brisbane player ruled out of Sunday’s battle at the Gabba.

Andrews was the fourth Lion to this week test positive to Covid-19, joining Keidean Coleman, Callum Ah Chee and Dan McStay as those who have fallen victim to the virus.

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When you add injured quartet Dayne Zorko (hamstring), Daniel Rich (hamstring), Jarrod Berry (hamstring) and Jaxon Prior (quad) to the casualties, the Lions’ depth is certain to be tested this weekend.

However, experienced defender Ryan Lester – who has been elevated from Brisbane’s VFL squad in the wake of illnesses and injuries that have swept through the club – said the players brought into Brisbane’s top side deserved their opportunity.

Ryan Lester (right) is back in Brisbane’s AFL team. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/AFL Photos/via Getty Images
Ryan Lester (right) is back in Brisbane’s AFL team. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/AFL Photos/via Getty Images

“There are quite a few of us who haven’t had too many (AFL) opportunities this year so it’s always exciting when you get a chance,” said Lester, who after making 32 top-flight appearances in the previous two years has made just one this season.

“We’ve been going pretty well in the VFL, so hopefully we can come in and play really well for the team, and hopefully we can get a win.

“You clearly want to be in the team going into the finals, and there’s nothing saying that ‘Fages’ (coach Chris Fagan) has to bring the eight guys who are out this week back in next week.

“Certainly from this opportunity, there’ll probably be one or two guys who end up staying in the team for finals, so that’s really exciting.”

Apart from Lester and Michael, a Maroochydore product who joined the club in 2020 via the Lions academy, others called into the top 22 this weekend are Mitch Robinson, Nakia Cockatoo, Darcy Fort, Tom Fullarton and Harry Sharp.

If required, the medi-sub – who was Prior last week – will come from emergencies Deven Robertson, Tom Berry, Rhys Mathieson and James Madden.

With regular skipper Zorko and his deputy Andrews out, three players – Lester, Lachie Neale and Hugh McCluggage – are in contention to captain the team on Sunday.

“Whoever it might be, it’s a great honour to be able to captain an AFL team,” Lester said.

“I don’t expect it to be me, but if it is, it would be amazing. If it’s not, with a couple of leaders out, there’ll be a few of us that need to step up in crucial times of the game, and hopefully I’ll be able to do that.”

Brisbane

Marco Monteverde is a Brisbane-based sports reporter for NCA Newswire. He worked in a similar role for The Courier-Mail from 2007 to 2020. During a journalism career of more than 25 years, he has also worked fo… Read more

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