Tall order awaits Lions again in latest QClash

Keegan Brooksby in action for the Suns last season. Photo: Getty Images
Keegan Brooksby in action for the Suns last season. Photo: Getty Images

GOLD Coast will look to again stretch the Brisbane defence as the Suns aim for a fourth straight win to start the season and a third successive QClash victory.

The Giants may have been the other new mob from over the border, but it has been Gold Coast's giants up forward who have proven too much of a handful for the Lions in recent contests.

The Suns secured successive wins over their Queensland rivals for the first time in 2015, with 202cm Charlie Dixon kicking hauls of six and three goals and 199cm Tom Lynch chiming in with bags of three and five.

While the Cairns-bred Dixon has ditched his roots and defected to Port Adelaide, Lynch will be the undisputed main danger today for the Lions at the Gabba, but this time may be joined by an unlikely offsider, Keegan Brooksby.

The 25-year-old has been named for his fifth game after debuting last season before his year ended when a blood clot was discovered in his left arm.

The 197cm South Australian mature-age recruit eventually underwent surgery to remove a rib so a vein wasn't being compressed. It left him out of action until Christmas.

"He's played really well in the seconds," Suns coach Rodney Eade said yesterday. "He certainly deserves his call-up.

"I think for a guy who hasn't played a lot of footy - he started late in his career - he's developed really quickly. He's got a good handle of the game... and he's a competitor."

With key backman Rory Thompson (ankle) sidelined, Sam Day has been named to start in defence alongside Steven May, with Brooksby in attack, though those roles may reverse.

"He can play in three different areas of the ground," Eade said of Brooksby, who won a best and fairest with South Adelaide in 2014. "He can play ruck, which is his main craft, forward and back. He played in the NAB series down back and acquitted himself well. That's an option for us."

While they are yet to set the world on fire, new Brisbane arrivals Josh Walker and Josh Schache have the potential to cause headaches for the Suns. Teenager Schache already sits equal fifth for contested marks this season (8).

Lynch has the same number, though, on the back of his competition-high tallies of 14 marks inside the attacking 50m and 13 goals will be the most dangerous forward on the ground, with veteran Lion Daniel Merrett expected to man him, while young Harris Andrews takes Brooksby or Day.

While the battles at each end of the ground will be intriguing, the contest in the middle will be intense as the Lions attempt to win their first game of the season.

They don't have skipper Tom Rockliff and Dayne Beams, but should regain Daniel Rich (hamstring), while hard man Mitch Robinson was let off by the Match Review Panel after his report for a high hit on Geelong's Joel Selwood.

They will go head to head with Gary Ablett and the league's leading disposal-winner, Aaron Hall.

"Most of their scores have come from stoppages, so we need to minimise their effect once they do win it," Eade said, adding that current ladder positions - the Suns sit second and the Lions last - meant nothing.

"I think it's going to be a hot game, especially early," he said. "There's a lot of pride there.

"I don't think our guys are going to underestimate Brisbane. They'll be fired up on their home ground."

GAME DAY

LIONS v SUNS

At the Gabba, 4.35pm

Also: Bombers v Cats 1.45pm, Hawks v Saints 2.10pm, Blues v Dogs 7.25pm, Crows v Swans 7.40pm



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