Lincoln McCarthy is surrounded by his Lions teammates after kicking a goal against Gold Coast in round 16. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

BRISBANE learnt plenty from last year's finals exit, including that it had to be more diverse in attack. 

As Matthew Lloyd put it, there was an "unhealthy reliance" on All-Australian Charlie Cameron late last season – something Lions coach Chris Fagan knew. 

In fact, in the lead-up to Brisbane's demolition of Gold Coast in round 16 this year, Fagan addressed it. 

The Lions and Suns clash in round 16

"We don't want to be that predictable side we were last year, where we were relying on Charlie Cameron and nobody else," he said. 

"We got to finals and the opposition teams hammered in and we weren't able to get across the line. We need diversity in our team." 

Richmond, next Friday's qualifying final opponent, exposed this brutally in the teams' past three meetings. The Tigers have held Cameron to a total of four goals from 24 disposals despite a plethora of forward entries heading his way. 

Charlie Cameron flies for a mark in the 2019 qualifying final against Richmond. Picture: AFL Photos

Brisbane forward Lincoln McCarthy conceded to there was a reliance on Cameron in 2019, but said it was "no one's fault".

"I think when a player has had such a good year you just look for him and we looked for him all the time, probably at times when maybe he wasn't the best option," McCarthy said. 

"That's the trust we have in him to create a contest or create some individual brilliance in one v ones, two v ones, we know how dangerous he is." 


So, what has Brisbane done about it?

Cameron has been significantly down on last year's form, missing the All Australian squad of 40, yet the Lions are still the League's third-highest scoring team. 

The diversity of options is there. They have seven players who have kicked 10 goals or more, led by Cameron's 26 and Eric Hipwood's 23.

St Kilda (eight players) is the only club with more than six double-digit goalkickers. 

FINALS PREDICTOR Who will win the 2020 premiership?

McCarthy said looking for different options when going inside 50 is something that has evolved, and not necessarily been spoken about. 

The Lions have noticeably used an array of players as their deepest forward, whether from centre bounces or stoppages around the ground.

Sometimes it's Cameron, sometimes Hipwood. Dan McStay and Cam Rayner are other choices. 


"We're just trying to throw different looks at the opposition," McCarthy said. 

"We're trying to take the predictability out of their method and provide predictability to ours. 

"Sometimes a smaller match-up is the best match-up for the day. We just try to mix it up a bit. 

"Sometimes we want to manipulate where their dangerous defenders are positioned.

"We've all got individual attributes we need to provide, and that's playing to our strengths as an individual to complement our group."

Champion Data statistics show Brisbane has still targeted Cameron heavily this season, but its reliance on him to kick goals is simply no longer there. 

In fact, of the Lions players targeted at least 25 times this season, the most effective is McCarthy, with 34.5 per cent of these targets leading to goals, and 58.8 per cent to scores. 


Dan McStay (25 per cent) is the next most effective, while Hipwood, Rayner and Oscar McInerney all have higher strike-rates than Cameron (13.1 per cent) when the ball is directed their way. 

"We've still got so much work to do as a unit to make sure whoever we're against we're still relevant," McCarthy said. 

"At times we get caught out. 

'At 26 I'm the oldest forward at the moment … it shows there's a lot of development in terms of game awareness to come from what our forward line is, and it's pretty exciting." 

The ultimate test will come against the Tigers though. In last year's qualifying final and the round 10 match at Metricon Stadium, Brisbane kicked a combined 12.34 to lose both matches by in excess of 40 points. 

The Lions generated chances, but could not capitalise. 


"Broadly we're happy (with how we played), but there's some specifics in terms of where we're having our shots against them," McCarthy said. 

"They have a chaos-type brand and force you into making mistakes you wouldn't normally make. 

"We've got to keep working hard to generate scoring opportunities that are a high probability and create more pressure and give them the same chaos they give us."