BRISBANE has found everything it wanted and more in Joe Daniher.

A reliable key forward option and one of the League's more impressive chop-out ruckmen, Daniher has silenced any lingering doubts over his ability to make an instant impact at the Lions.

After just 15 games in his previous three seasons, the talented 27-year-old has vindicated the club, its recruiting team and its medical staff's confidence in their collective ability to rebuild both his form and fitness.

It hadn't always appeared so simple. A protracted and failed 2019 trade saga involving Sydney and another frustrating 2020 campaign plagued by injury at Essendon had cast justifiable concerns over exactly the type of impact Daniher could make at Brisbane in 2021.

02:28 Mins
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Best of Joe the Lion in 2021

Brisbane star recruit Joe Daniher has impressed since his move from the Bombers

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The club's 1-3 start to the season, the revitalised form of the recently departed Stefan Martin and a subsequent ruck shortage following injuries to Oscar McInerney and Archie Smith had then further put the spotlight on its decision to pursue one of the AFL's most high-profile free agents.

But Daniher has already played more games through the season's first eight weeks than he managed in his previous two combined, and has already featured more times this year than in any single season since his career-best campaign in 2017.

Indeed, should Daniher continue his impressive start to the year in his first ever QClash against Gold Coast this weekend, it should put the 200cm forward in the perfect position to produce his best season since his remarkable output of four years ago.

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An All-Australian and a Crichton medallist as Essendon's best and fairest in 2017, it was fair to believe that Daniher's best days were done. But at Brisbane, his game has returned to being as complete as it ever was.

He has provided the perfect foil to young key forward partner Eric Hipwood in attack, also producing a nice one-two punch with Charlie Cameron, while he is the ideal complementary partner for the developing McInerney in their budding ruck combination.

Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood celebrate during the round six match between Carlton and Brisbane at Marvel Stadium on April 24, 2021. Picture: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Daniher's forward numbers make for comforting reading. His 14 goals thus far put him on track for the second-biggest single-season haul of his career, even if it might remain some way short of the 65-goal campaign he managed in 2017.

Meanwhile, his average of 6.1 marks per match ranks him inside the top-10 in the League for key forwards, while his 1.9 contested marks, 1.9 marks inside-50 and 5.9 score involvements also compares favourably to some of the game's best key-position forwards.

But it's the manner in which Brisbane's medical staff have managed to reinvigorate Daniher's fitness base – subsequently enabling him to play much higher up the field – that is most impressive.

Daniher ranks No.1 in the competition among key forwards for inside-50s and metres gained so far this season, while his average of 15.4 disposals per game is a career-high and ranks No.2 among key forwards.

Those numbers, combined with his average of 1.0 clearances per game and 7.0 contested possessions per game – both top-10 among key forwards – are illustrative of a player maximising his improved tank in a secondary ruck role.

Joe Daniher

Career Avg.

2021 Avg.

2021 Key Fwd Ranking

Disposals

12.7

15.4

#2

Contested Possessions

5.7

7.0

#8

Clearances

0.8

1.0

#7

Inside 50s

2.7

4.3

#1

Marks

5.9

6.1

#10

Metres Gained

254

401

#1

Hitout-to-advantage %

6.3%

7.3%

#7


Given Brisbane's need for ruck depth following Martin's departure to the Western Bulldogs, plus the relative inexperience of McInerney as a full-time ruckman, a case can be made that it's as a secondary ruck where Daniher is truly excelling.

Still spending the majority of his time forward – Champion Data notes he has played 83.4 per cent game time forward and 16.3 percent in the ruck this season – the long-limbed Daniher is having an impact in his new part-time role.

Having attended 123 ruck contests this year – behind only Peter Wright, Luke Jackson, Chris Burgess, Mark Blicavs and Levi Casboult among back-up rucks – Daniher's ball-winning abilities, the territory he gains and his clearance numbers also stack up.

His hitout-to-advantage percentage of 7.3 per cent ranks No.7 among all key forwards to have attended at least 50 ruck contests so far this season, another impressive aspect of his work at stoppages.

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Daniher caps off game with his 200th AFL goal

A career-high night in disposals for Joe Daniher has been capped off with his 200th career goal

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To emphasise Daniher's return to his best form, his numbers in all of the aforementioned statistical categories are better in 2021 than what he has averaged across his entire career. In terms of disposals, inside-50s, centre clearances, metres gained and uncontested possessions, he is ranked 'elite' among key forwards by Champion Data.

Daniher's arrival and Brisbane's ability to get him both back on the park and back among the best continues the club's fantastic recent track record in rejuvenating recruits from elsewhere. Just ask Lincoln McCarthy, Grant Birchall and Callum Ah Chee.

But, heading into his first ever clash against crosstown rivals Gold Coast on Saturday, it's Daniher who is so far proving the standout. Whether he will also prove the difference for the Lions come September remains to be seen.