RHYS Mathieson has played just 10 games, but coach Justin Leppitsch says the Brisbane Lions need more players like him.
Mathieson was at the centre of a second quarter revival in Sunday's 10-goal loss to Geelong, niggling Cats skipper Joel Selwood and firing up his teammates in the process.
The Lions got good contributions from leaders Tom Rockliff and Daniel Rich, but it was 19-year-old Mathieson's play that had the home team buzzing.
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He wasn't afraid to push and shove Selwood and eventually drew a free kick from the Geelong champion, ironically for a high 'shrug' tackle he made famous.
Mathieson went back and slotted the goal and got right in Selwood's face. The Geelong midfielder responded by imitating the Lion's 'gunshot' celebration before pushing him off.
The incident was part of reducing a 36-point quarter-time lead to just 15 by the main break, and Leppitsch said he'd be happy to see more of it.
"I won't be reining him in," Leppitsch said.
"I think we need more players that have the spunk and aggression and want to win.
"There's no way you'd be reining in that.
"I think our fans love watching Mitch Robinson go at it the way he does, and I think we need more of that within our team."
Leppitsch said incidents like those with Selwood were "sideshows" that both fans and media liked.
It was a highlight in a mundane Sunday afternoon contest, where Geelong burst from the gates, withstood a spirited Lions quarter, and eased to victory.
Leppitsch said it was simply class that told in the end, although he was happy with his team's effort at the back end of a 3-18 season.
"We didn’t get despondent from mistakes and continued on, there were some key moments where we could have given up but didn’t," he said.
"That’s all you require and I think we have shown the past couple of weeks is that we are going to fight the season out, whether they become wins or losses is not going to matter to where we finish on the table.
"But it is really important that you go into every pre-season with a sense that you can fight it out.
"That’s what we want to do like every club in our position on the ladder."