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Eagles test comes at perfect time for Lions: Rayner

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If there's a time to get the reigning premiers, I reckon round one is the time
Cam Rayner

ON PAPER, playing the reigning premier in round one is as tough as it gets, but Cam Rayner believes it's the perfect time for Brisbane to host West Coast.

And in a quirk of the draw, there's a very real and simple way for the Lions to measure their early-season progress.

Not only is the freshest memory of the Eagles edging Collingwood in last year's dramatic Grand Final, but the last time Brisbane played a match for premiership points was against West Coast at the Gabba in round 23.

"If there's a time to get the reigning premiers, I reckon round one is the time," Rayner said.

"All the boys are super excited, we get to measure ourselves against the competition's best in the first round.

"It'll be a really good stepping stone for the rest of our season."

West Coast nailed down second spot and a week one home final with a comfortable 26-point win over the Lions last time, and the former number one draft pick says Brisbane has done its homework.

"We watched vision from last time we played, but we've got new players and a new team," he said.

"We're just going to go out there and play our footy and see how it matches up against the best."

 

Off-season recruits Lachie Neale, Jarryd Lyons and Lincoln McCarthy will all debut for the club, while Darcy Gardiner's return from a knee injury ensures the Lions are at full strength.

"We're starting to build some depth," Rayner said.

"Now you see players like, unfortunately 'Squiz' (Lewy Taylor) couldn't get a game and 'Bundy' (Allen Christensen) and they're two really, really good players, and Nick Robbo (Robertson) had an awesome game last time against West Coast.

"It's just exciting to see what they can do as a group."