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Lions mid-20s 'veterans' must lift: Black

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Dayne Zorko is one of several experienced Lions that the club is banking on to lift them up the ladder - ${keywords}
Dayne Zorko is one of several experienced Lions that the club is banking on to lift them up the ladder

THE Brisbane Lions' more experienced players must produce more to help lift the club up the ladder, says midfield coach Simon Black.

Although encouraged by the Lions' pool of talent, Black has warned it could still take a couple of years to "push the big boys". 

They narrowly avoided the wooden spoon in 2015 with just four wins, including a final-round upset over the Western Bulldogs that helped them leapfrog Carlton and finish 17th. 

Ahead of their NAB Challenge opener against Gold Coast on Sunday, Black pointed the finger at the Lions' older brigade to lead a revival in 2016.

"There's guys last year that had interrupted years and guys in that 24 to 26 and 27 age bracket, and for us to fight our way back up the ladder, we need more out of (them)," Black said.

"We've got some talented guys that need to regularly produce a little bit more and there's no question we need that if we want to fight our way back up the ladder." 

Captain Tom Rockliff (ribs), Irish speedster Pearce Hanley (hip) and classy midfielder Dayne Beams (shoulder) fall into that age bracket and had injury-interrupted campaigns last year. 

Along with ruckman Stefan Martin, they are arguably the Lions' three most influential players and took the field just once together last season.

Dayne Zorko, Daniel Rich, Allen Christensen, Mitch Robinson and off-season recruits Tom Bell and Ryan Bastinac also fall into that age profile.

Black said there were a lot of unknowns entering the season, including the impact of highly touted draftees Josh Schache, Ben Keays and Rhys Mathieson. 

He preached patience but was not ruling out a quick climb by the young Lions.

"As players, coaches and supporters we want it to happen instantly," Black said. 

"To put a timeframe on it, it may take a couple of years for when we can push the big boys in the competition. 

"That said, it can happen quickly, and there's no reason why we can't do it this year.

"On the back of last year's injury toll and a lot of our better players not having full seasons, we're really excited by the prospect of what we can serve up." 

Black said there had been a big pre-season focus on winning contested ball, an area in which the Lions have been poor for years.