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'It's felt different' coming to work: Longest-serving Lion

Excitement building around 'super versatile' young Lion Dinny Navaratnam and Riley Beveridge bring you an update on the Lions' pre-season

TEN YEARS ago, Daniel Rich started a career that saw him win the NAB AFL Rising Star award and play two finals in his first season. 

The No.7 pick from the 2008 NAB AFL Draft had delivered in spades during his first year, and with a Brisbane team boasting Jonathan Brown, Simon Black, Luke Power and about to recruit Brendan Fevola, the sky looked the limit. 

But as history now shows, it's been a barren time for the Lions since 2009 finished. 

The longest-serving player at the Lions by two years (from Ryan Lester), Rich has stayed throughout. 

He's seen Michael Voss sacked, suffered an ACL injury, come and gone from the leadership group, seen Justin Leppitsch come and go, 'won' a wooden spoon, and in more recent years begin to recapture the form that saw him drafted with such high hopes.

Now in his 11th pre-season, Rich told AFL.com.au he was enjoying the game more than ever and is desperate to be part of a successful Lions climb. 

"Those early days were really good and the last six, seven, eight years it's been pretty slim in terms of how we've gone," Rich said.

"The last few years we haven't won many games, but it's been really enjoyable coming to work, it's felt different." 

Rich has watched a number of top-10 draft picks come and go, but throughout it all, he's stayed.

No question he signed lucrative contract extensions when Brisbane needed to retain its better players, but these were opportunities others had, but rejected, as well.

Rich, 28, is tied to the Lions until the end of 2021 and said there was a number of reasons he remained at the club so long.

"I'm a pretty loyal person," he said. 

"You get offers and opportunities to do other things, but the club's been great to me and looked after me and it's the way it works.

"The way you're treated by guys when you get here, 'Browny', 'Blacky' and Lukey Power, I feel it's necessary to give back and do the same thing.

"Brisbane as a place I really enjoy, I can live a lifestyle away from footy, go down the coast (to surf), get on the golf course. There's a variety of reasons." 

Rich has flourished under Chris Fagan, playing 40 of 44 games since he became coach, missing four at the start of last season with an ankle injury.

Now used as a half-back that can distribute the ball cleverly and with penetration via his left foot, Rich said he wanted to return to the feeling when he first came to Brisbane. 

"I've been around a while and haven't played a final since my first season," Rich said. 

"From a team perspective we're all pretty hungry to achieve that again. Hopefully it's this season."