Keidean Coleman celebrates Brisbane's preliminary final win over Carlton on September 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

HE MIGHT not be at the very top, but you wouldn't have to scroll far to find Keidean Coleman's name on a 'most irreplaceable players' list for Brisbane.

Just starting his fifth season in the AFL, Coleman appeared ready to take off as one of the competition's emerging stars after announcing himself late last year.

Along with Hugh McCluggage, he was adjudged Brisbane's best finals player following sublime showings in the final two games of the season against Carlton (preliminary final) and Collingwood (Grand Final).


Now, while Coleman undergoes surgery from the anterior cruciate ligament he ruptured last Friday night, the Lions must find a replacement to fill the void for the remainder of 2024.

It won't be easy, as articulated by Essendon great Matthew Lloyd on's Access All Areas.

"(Chris Fagan) would have massive concerns," Lloyd said.

"He was just about the best man on the ground in the Grand Final, he reads the game so well, he's young, he's in the prime of his career."


Fagan is an unashamed fan of Coleman the player and person.

"He’s a good story," Fagan told during the pre-season.

"The first person in his family to buy his own house, just before Christmas. That’s exciting for him. He’s got a young family. Academy player, so it’s great that he’s come through that pathway.

"If we had’ve won and he played a good last quarter, he would’ve won the Norm Smith (medal). And his finals series full stop was outstanding. He’s just a natural, and a good mover and beautiful kick, good decision-maker."

Keidean Coleman looks dejected after Brisbane lost the 2023 Toyota AFL Grand Final on September 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

There is no like-for-like replacement to cover that skillset.

Coleman is the best decision-maker and ball-user in Brisbane's backline. He unlocks a lot of the Lions' fluent ball movement with his calculated risk-taking and ability to execute with precision.

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He also has a great ability to read the game and surge forward to cut-off opposition attacking forays, averaging five intercept possessions a game last year.

So, who's in line to take his place?

Conor McKenna is expected to return from a hamstring injury against Fremantle on Sunday, so initially it might be a 'one out, one in' approach, but with both men integral to Brisbane's Grand Final run, it will need to find a long-term solution to Coleman's absence.

Jarrod Berry played in defence during Opening Round and has the mindset to play the role, although his kicking is not as precise as Coleman's.

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Mr Fix-It Callum Ah Chee has played at half-back during his career and could potentially swap with Berry on the wing if Fagan and his staff leant that way.

If you want the dash and ball-use, former skipper Dayne Zorko could move back. But does that rob one strength – along with McCluggage, Zorko is arguably the best kicker forward of centre on the team – to cover another hole?

Callum Ah Chee flies for a mark during Opening Round on March 8, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

There is a host of VFL players begging for an extended chance in the top team.

Noah Answerth has just completed his first full pre-season since being drafted five years ago and offers speed and tenacity.

Jaxon Prior has, in theory, the closest style of game to Coleman's. The 22-year-old is a polished left footer that hasn't quite grasped his chances in 35 senior appearances.

Jimmy Madden has the speed, Carter Michael the ball-use and untried Shadeau Brain the skill.

Lots of options, all of them good, none of them perfect. That's what makes Coleman so difficult to replace.

However, as Fagan said following the loss to the Blues, Coleman's absence provides an opportunity for someone else to step up, and perhaps that someone can be integral to Brisbane going one step further in 2024.