Jack Payne in action during the match between Brisbane and Fremantle at The Gabba in round seven, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

IT SHOULD come as little surprise that Jack Payne's return to form over the past fortnight has coincided with Brisbane reversing its early season struggles.

Payne was dropped following the Lions' shock Opening Round loss to Carlton after Charlie Curnow kicked four goals in a hurry to spark a Blues revival.

It was a big decision for coach Chris Fagan, known for his loyalty to established players, after Payne had a breakout 2023.

The key defender said it was "disappointing" to be omitted.

"After sitting down and talking to him (Fagan) about it, I was fully understanding of his decision," Payne said on Thursday morning.

"I just had to go back to the twos and find my belief again.

"I feel like I did that and over the past two weeks I've found my form of last season and hopefully I can keep building."


Payne played one game in the VFL before being recalled to face Collingwood on Easter Thursday following injuries to Darcy Gardiner and luckless Tom Doedee.

Since then, he kept All-Australian Nick Larkey quiet in a win over North Melbourne and did likewise against Ben Brown in the Lions' strong victory over Melbourne a week ago.

Jack Payne and Ben Brown in action during the match between Melbourne and Brisbane at the MCG in round five, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Payne has now settled in alongside Harris Andrews and Ryan Lester in the key defensive posts and faces a huge challenge against a Geelong forward line equipped with Jeremy Cameron, Tom Hawkins and Ollie Henry at the Gabba on Saturday night.

The Lions will be without injured Zac Bailey, but co-captain Lachie Neale is expected to overcome an ankle niggle that has hindered him in the past few weeks.