Matt Maguire must step up for Lions - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Matt Maguire must step up for Lions

Jim Morton and Laine Clark 09/06/2011 05:39:11 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane skipper Jonathan Brown and backline coach Jade Rawlings have backed St Kilda discard Matt Maguire to fill the big boots of Daniel Merrett against Carlton on Sunday.

The Lions defensive rock, Merrett may not play again this season due to a stress fracture in his back in a huge blow to the battling club.

But Brown and former Hawthorn key defender Rawlings believe Maguire has the capability of nullifying the leading forwards in the AFL.

Maguire was one of six inclusions in a 25-man squad along with Tom Rockliff, Amon Buchanan, Josh Drummond, Ryan Harwood and elevated rookie Mitch Golby.

"(Merrett) is a big loss, an elite defender in the competition and that has been a real strength of ours this year - our defence," Brown said.

"But we have a ready-made substitute in Matt Maguire.

"Around the place he (Merrett) has become a real leader, others are going to have to step up to the plate."

Assistant coach Rawlings revealed Merrett, touted for All Australian selection, showed his character by playing with the injury in the 65-point hammering by Sydney at the Gabba.

"He was under duress the other night but didn't let on to anyone until after the game so it's just testament to his pain threshold and his commitment to this group," Rawlings said on Thursday.

Stranded on 99 AFL matches, Maguire debuted for the Lions last year after being picked up in the seventh round of the 2009 draft but he had an injury-affected season.

The 27-year-old has been solid in a pressured Lions backline which has risen to most challenges in a disappointing 2-8 first half of the year.

But Rawlings highlighted the challenge posed by the Blues at Etihad Stadium by naming Jarrad Waite, Marc Murphy, Kade Simpson, Andrew Walker and Chris Judd when asked who was the "biggest threat".

"(Eddie) Betts and (Jeff) Garlett are going to offer a lot of problems on top of those guys but one of our strengths this year has been our backline and defending all sorts of forward lines," he said.

"We've got a pretty adaptable backline."

Sunday's clash will be rising midfielder James Polkinghorne's 50th senior match and a chance to atone for a humiliating loss to the Swans, who easily won the overall disposals (110-52) and clearances (14-2) in the first quarter at the Gabba.

"Hopefully the weekend was an aberration," Brown said. "Everyone is pretty embarrassed about what happened, and we have to redeem ourselves."

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