Unorthodox rise for Lions' Dalziell - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Unorthodox rise for Lions' Dalziell

By Laine Clark 20/07/2008 12:04:09 PM Comments (0)

Bradd Dalziell's AFL rise has been as unorthodox as the spelling of his Christian name.

The West Australian is the first to admit he thought his AFL chance had passed him by when he was recovering with a broken arm in the East Fremantle reserves team last year.

A mature-age recruit picked up No.52 overall in the 2007 Draft, Dalziell finally gave Brisbane coach Leigh Matthews no choice but to pick him with a weight of possession for reserves outfit, the Suncoast Lions.

But even the wily old Matthews was surprised by what happened next.

The 21-year-old made the most of a shock starting role ahead of his idol Simon Black to nab an incredible 32 possessions on debut and help the Lions crush West Coast by 46 points at the Gabba on Saturday night.

"I don't think you would have expected that in your wildest dreams," Matthews said of Dalziell, the Lions' fifth debutant of 2008.

"The way he was able to play big minutes, get involved in the flow of the game - that was the type of game that he has been playing in the reserves."

Dalziell's blinder came against a team from his own backyard that had a chance to snap him up as a youngster.

But the midfielder denied that his inspired performance was a stern "I told you so" to the Eagles.

"I wasn't a big West Coast fan. I didn't really follow the western teams - I was a Geelong supporter, I love Gary Ablett," Dalziell said.

"I loved to move out of Perth because the footy out there is pretty serious - back in Brisbane it is pretty laidback.

"It means a better lifestyle over here as well."

Even the laidback Dalziell was surprised when Matthews asked him to start on Saturday night, opting to have the recovering Black (shoulder) begin on the interchange bench.

It wasn't the first time Dalziell had pipped Black - he broke the fellow West Australian's club beep test record in the pre-season.

Black (27 possessions) was again inspirational along with Luke Power (31).

But all eyes were on Dalziell after he capped a remarkable comeback.

"I struggled most of last year because I missed half the season with a broken arm," he said.

"I had really set myself a big year that year so I was really disappointed.

"I didn't think I would be here. I thought it had passed me by."

The victory snapped a worrying two game losing run against sides outside the top eight and marked the first time in six years the Lions had downed the Eagles at the Gabba.

While Matthews lamented the fact his side could not put the lowly Eagles away, he was content with just being back in the winners' circle.

"We've fallen at a couple of hurdles, so it was nice to jump one," he said.

"A lot of the things that are important to our competitiveness were there.

"We weren't fantastic with ball in hand but at least we got the competitive building blocks back to something near the standard we need.

"Therefore we got back to playing something near the ability we've got."

The sixth-placed Lions now face a vital clash for their top eight hopes against Richmond at Telstra Dome next weekend.

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