Merrett says Lions won't be underdone - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Merrett says Lions won't be underdone

By Jim Morton 25/03/2009 08:38:59 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane vice-captain Daniel Merrett has denied the Lions will be underdone for their AFL season-opener against West Coast despite being one of a key trio kept in cotton wool.

The fullback played down any fears the Lions would struggle for cohesion with himself, ruckman Jamie Charman and star midfielder Simon Black likely to be named to play.

Merrett (quad) and Charman (knee) gained a special clearance to make a low-key comeback in the AFLQ state league on the weekend while Black (broken wrist, back and ankle surgery) hasn't played a minute of pre-season football.

It appears all three will on Thursday be chosen by new coach Michael Voss to meet the Eagles at the Gabba on Saturday night.

Merrett believed the Lions would be at full strength and shouldn't suffer any rustiness.

"I think all our main players should be there, and we should have a full list to pick from, so I don't think it should be an issue," said the rising red-headed defender.

"With Blacky and Charmo a lot of leadership comes back and a lot of experience so it will only better the team.

"The guys have been together for a few years now and we've all played together for a while so (a lack of cohesion) shouldn't be a problem."

The Lions go into the first-round match as the shortest favourite ($1.25) of the weekend but are wary of West Coast.

The Eagles, who beat Brisbane in the corresponding season-opener last year in Perth, traditionally win their first-up games and have a fine record in Brisbane.

Despite Voss taking over from Leigh Matthews, the biggest question mark the Lions face is their ability to grind out close wins after suffering four final-quarter meltdowns in 2008 which ultimately cost them a finals berth.

Merrett said they have addressed the problem and indicated they would play more conservatively late in games with a focus on maintaining possession.

"What we needed to improve on was our skills and we've done that," he said.

"The size of the bodies in the team has improved so we are a lot stronger team.

"And a couple of those late games we lost which could have got us into the finals last year, we've put plans into place to fix that."

Forging a strong defensive department with the likes of Josh Drummond, Joel Patfull, Joel Macdonald and Jason Roe, Merrett was confident Brisbane's backline would continue its rise in 2009.

"We have got a pretty good platform there, we've got four or five guys that should play all year and hopefully we play together and build a real bond together.

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