BRISBANE coach Chris Fagan says finals heartbreak and a rollercoaster 2021 has the Lions primed for a run deep into September.
This is the third season in succession Brisbane has finished the home and away season inside the top four, being knocked out at the semi-final and preliminary final stages the past two years.
Ahead of playing minor premier Melbourne at Adelaide Oval in a qualifying final on Saturday night, Fagan says those experiences should help his team.
"Losing finals hardens you a bit," Fagan said following main training on Thursday.
"I expect our players are still disappointed over the last two years.
"While it was a great effort to finish in the top four, we still couldn't get to the big dance.
"There's no fairytales in finals series', it comes down to hard work and who's in form at the right times."
And after a season of ups and down, the Lions are in good form, winning their past three matches comfortably to qualify for the double chance.
Dual Therabody AFL All-Australian full-back Harris Andrews (hamstring) and rugged wingman Mitch Robinson (calf) both passed their final fitness test and will line up against the Demons, giving the Lions their strongest team arguably all season.
Unlike previous years, Brisbane has been dealt some significant injury blows this season, missing Cam Rayner and Eric Hipwood with ruptured ACLs, while Lachie Neale, Darcy Gardiner, Jarrod Berry and Marcus Adams have all missed significant stretches.
Fagan says on reflection the setbacks should make his team stronger, by exposing young players and preparing them for finals.
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"I always feel those little bits of adversity help you build resilience, which you need plenty of in finals," he said.
"I think I'd rather be in the situation we've been in this year than have a situation where you've had a beautiful year, no injuries, everything's working magnificently and suddenly you hit the finals and have a couple of injuries and you think 'wow, that's going to be hard to deal with'.
"We've had to do it on a number of occasions this year, so we're not fazed by it as a club or a team and the players in the team aren't either."