BRISBANE will play Collingwood on Thursday night without ruckman Oscar McInerney after he failed to overcome an ankle injury suffered against Geelong.

Although McInerney's absence on paper appears as big as his 204cm frame, Lions coach Chris Fagan says the key to defeating the Magpies lies elsewhere.

"The bottom line is the battle's got to be won at ground level," Fagan said on Wednesday afternoon.

"It's not just about the hitouts, it's about what happens when the ball this the ground.

"We're going to have to come up with a good strategy tomorrow night to mitigate that because Brodie Grundy usually wins the hitouts against most ruckmen he plays against."

18:56 Mins
Published on

'A world of hurt': A team with no spark, a superstar toying with opposition

Matthew Lloyd and Damian Barrett discuss a thrilling round of football on Access All Areas

Published on

With McInerney's back-up Archie Smith (achilles and shoulder) also unavailable, Brisbane has to look a bit further into the cupboard.

Tom Fullarton can move from his forward role into the ruck or Connor Ballenden – who was one of four players to fly to Melbourne on Monday – could be called into the team.

Fagan said Brownlow medalist Lachie Neale would be "fine" to play the Magpies despite being on light duties for much of the week.

He said there had been no discussion with the AFL about Geelong tagger Mark O'Connor's tactics of keeping Neale quiet, but Fagan clearly expected more vigilance come game-day.

"It's not a problem with them being tagged, just make sure the tactics are legal," Fagan said.

"I think there were times when Lachie was blocked well and truly away from the contest – I think the rules say (the ball must be within) 5m."