Cam Rayner reacts during Brisbane's official team photo day on February 1, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Ins and outs


Tom Doedee (free agent, Adelaide), Luke Lloyd (No.42 draft pick), Logan Morris (No.31 draft pick), Bruce Reville (Category B rookie, Academy), Brandon Ryan (trade, Hawthorn), Reece Torrent (No.64 draft pick), Zane Zakostelsky (No.51 draft pick)


Marcus Adams (retired), Nakia Cockatoo (retired), Blake Coleman (delisted), Tom Fullarton (trade, Melbourne), Jack Gunston (trade, Hawthorn), Rhys Mathieson (delisted), Darryl McDowell-White jnr (delisted), Daniel Rich (retired)

Medical room

After undergoing shoulder surgery in the off-season, the Lions are hopeful Jarrod Berry will get some game time in the practice match against Sydney on February 29. Deven Robertson (wrist) might be a touch further behind, Conor McKenna (hamstring) will be touch and go for Opening Round, while Hugh McCluggage (corked quad) missed Friday’s intraclub, but will be right for the season's start. Adelaide recruit Tom Doedee (knee) is on track to be available as early as round three, while Will Ashcroft (knee) is expected back around the middle of the season.

Will Ashcroft is seen during Brisbane training on September 26, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Three burning questions

How will the Lions respond to Grand Final heartache?
It's always interesting to see how the losing Grand Finalist fronts up the following season. After playing in finals five consecutive years, Brisbane got within four points of the ultimate prize against Collingwood last season. Will it deflate or inspire? With the majority of their settled list about to enter their prime, there's no reason the Lions shouldn't contend again.

Is there depth behind Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood?
Up until 2022 there was Dan McStay and in 2023 there was Jack Gunston, but there is no longer an established third tall forward on the Lions' list. While Chris Fagan settled on Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood as a two-tall forward line late last year, the question now is who could come in should one be felled by injury? Hawks recruit Brandon Ryan, ruckman Darcy Fort, veteran Darcy Gardiner who has trialled there during the pre-season or draftee Logan Morris? A lot of options, but most of them unproven.

Will Cam Rayner make THE leap?
If Brisbane is to win the premiership, it will largely rely on internal growth, and the man at the top of that list is Cam Rayner. The former No.1 draft pick was excellent in 2023 – finishing fifth in the club's best and fairest – but might have to find another gear for the Lions to salute on the last Saturday in September. He played largely as a pseudo third tall forward last season, but has spent much of this pre-season onball. Wherever he plays, Rayner can be a matchwinner on a more regular basis.

Cam Rayner handballs during the Brisbane intraclub match at Brighton Homes Arena on February 9, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Track watch

After turning his back on rival offers to re-sign late last season, Kai Lohmann came back to training in as good a shape as anyone. He hasn't quite nailed down a wing/half-forward spot, but given himself the best chance. Cam Rayner and Zac Bailey are both super fit and spent plenty of minutes in the midfield during the club's match simulations, while draftee Logan Morris has impressed with his workrate and aerial expertise.

Fantasy lock

A star for the Lions in last year's Grand Final, Keidean Coleman (DEF, $628,000) scored a game-high 127 on the last Saturday in September. It wasn't just the Grand Final when he performed. He had 106 in the preliminary final against Carlton and averaged 93.5 in his last four home and away games. Coleman is set to take his sub-70 average to at least the mid-80s and offers plenty of value.

Keidean Coleman during the Grand Final between Collingwood and Brisbane at the MCG, September 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Instant hit

He won't play in Opening Round against Carlton, but the big splash the Lions made during the off-season was to recruit Adelaide intercept defender Tom Doedee. The 26-year-old is recovering strongly from a knee reconstruction and is expected to be available as early as the Grand Final rematch against Collingwood on Easter Thursday. 

It's a big year for…

He's one of Brisbane's quieter players, but Hugh McCluggage might find himself in a few headlines in 2024. The vice-captain is set to enter free agency at season's end and could command a contract pushing seven figures. McCluggage has finished in the top three of the Lions' best and fairest the past five seasons and showed his class on Grand Final day as one of the Lions' best. There's absolutely no indication he'll leave, but until that ink is dry on a new contract …

Hugh McCluggage during the 2023 Grand Final between Collingwood and Brisbane at the MCG, September 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Pass mark

At a minimum the Lions would expect to make a preliminary final, but baring injuries to key personnel at the wrong time, they'd be disappointed to not get back to another Grand Final. It's a long season and context will be key to assessing Brisbane at the other end.

Best 23 for 2024

B: Tom Doedee, Jack Payne, Brandon Starcevich
HB: Keidean Coleman, Harris Andrews, Darcy Wilmot
C: Jaspa Fletcher, Hugh McCluggage, Jarrod Berry
HF: Lincoln McCarthy, Eric Hipwood, Zac Bailey
F: Cam Rayner, Joe Daniher, Charlie Cameron
Foll: Oscar McInerney, Lachie Neale, Josh Dunkley
I/C: Conor McKenna, Cal Ah Chee, Will Ashcroft, Deven Robertson, Dayne Zorko
Emerg: Darcy Gardiner, Kai Lohmann, Jarryd Lyons, Darcy Fort