Will Ashcroft in action during the R18 match between Brisbane and Melbourne at the MCG on July 14, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

BRISBANE faces one difficult question ahead of Friday night's match against Melbourne at the Gabba – bring Will Ashcroft straight back in at senior level or let him have a run in the VFL first?

Barring any last-minute mishaps, Ashcroft is slated to play his first game in almost 12 months this round after overcoming a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Ordinarily a player of Ashcroft's ilk would walk straight back in at the top level, but the Lions are suddenly humming with three straight wins and a nice mix in their midfield and forward line.

Veteran Dayne Zorko was posed the question on Monday morning and although being non-committal, said he liked what he'd seen from the 20-year-old in recent weeks.

"He's been doing some things at training that give you flashbacks to last year and the brilliance he showed in his first year," Zorko said.

"He's been training for a long time, and his touch, and hands look absolutely elite.

Will Ashcroft signs autographs ahead of the R3 match between Brisbane and Collingwood at the Gabba on March 28, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"That'll be a decision the coaches have to work out … but seeing what I'm seeing at training, he looks more than capable of coming in and doing what he needs to.

"I'm glad I'm not in that (match) committee."

Ashcroft played 18 games in his debut season, averaging 22 disposals, kicking eight goals and showing a maturity beyond his years in the front half of the ground.


Regardless of who runs out for the Lions on Friday night, Zorko said they had no reason to be complacent, despite facing a Melbourne outfit that has struggled in recent weeks.

"Given our start to the season we can't be complacent with where we are," he said.

"If we have aspirations of getting back to that last Saturday in September, we can't be looking too far ahead.

"We have a job to do on Friday night against the Dees, who, look they might be undermanned, but we know their best football is extremely dangerous and we need to be fully equipped for that and we certainly won't be taking any team lightly going forward."

Zorko said he expected Kai Lohmann to be available to play, despite the young half-forward leaving Saturday's win over Port Adelaide early with a corked hip.