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Harris Andrews a home-grown rising star for Lions

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 19: Harris Andrews of the Lions in action during the 2015 AFL round 16 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Brisbane Lions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Australia on July 19, 2015. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Harris Andrews has been learning the ropes at both ends of the ground

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THE 'GO-HOME' factor has loomed large at the Brisbane Lions recently, but the Queensland club can be confident of rebuilding around one young gun – Harris Andrews.

Andrews, who has been named the round 18 NAB AFL Rising Star nominee, is a Lions Academy product who played his entire junior career of more than 200 games for Aspley, in Brisbane's northern suburbs.

It makes the 18-year-old just the type of player the Lions can pin their future on for the next decade or more.

"I spent 12 years at Aspley, I think, from when I was about five (years old)," Andrews told AFL.com.au.

"Brisbane's my home; it's where my family, friends and school friends (are). I love Brisbane and it's a great place to be."

The Lions secured Andrews with a bargain-priced pick 61 in last year's draft after matching a second-round bid from North Melbourne.

The 200cm beanpole didn't expect to appear at AFL level this year, but injuries opened the door in round three and he's grabbed his chance as strongly as one of his trademark contested marks.

He's become a regular since - only missing one match - and in Saturday's 56-point loss to Geelong, Andrews stood tall in defence against one of the biggest forward lines in the League – led by Tom Hawkins.

Playing loose in defence, he hauled in 12 marks – three contested – and racked up 22 touches, which he used at an elite 96 per cent disposal efficiency, to earn his coach's praise after a tough day at the office.

"Harris and (fellow academy product Liam Dawson) are both first-year players, they were terrific. It's exciting for our future," Justin Leppitsch said post-match.

"They're the players that our supporters are going to keep coming to see over the years, there's no doubt."

The injury-ravaged Lions have struggled this season with experienced key position types thin on the ground.

But a top-end pick will be on its way to the currently 18th-placed club in November's draft, and Andrews is confident the team's on-field fortunes can turn around fast.

"Obviously we've got a lot of young blokes getting games and getting experience, so there's no reason why the rebuild can't happen quickly," he said.

A key forward or another tall defender appear the most pressing needs for Leppitsch's men, with a marking target sorely lacking against the Cats.

Andrews has filled gaps at both ends this year, booting four majors, but feels as though he's found his niche trying to stop goals with his intercept marking rather than kicking them himself.

"Because I'm still a bit lightly built I've been able to play off my man a bit and then come in a bit later," he said.

"It's a bit different to up forward when you've got a bloke holding on to you and scragging you.

"I've done a fair bit of work over the off-season on marking, because the way the game's going it's a pretty valuable trait."

Andrews, who is averaging 11 touches and five marks this year, becomes the Lions' fourth Rising Star nominee since last year, following in the footsteps of 2014's overall winner Lewis Taylor, Darcy Gardiner and James Aish.

Harris Andrews' junior club: Aspley JAFC