BRISBANE Lions ruckman Matthew Leuenberger took another giant stride towards returning to senior action on Thursday when he finished the club's intra-club hit-out at Coorparoo.

The match was broken into three thirds, of which Leuenberger played the first two.

He played a mix of full-forward and spent time in the ruck, showing no ill-effects of an Achilles injury that destroyed his 2012 season.

The 24-year-old played just three matches last year before being sidelined and has played only 69 matches in an injury-plagued six-season career.

But on Thursday he was full of life, kicking an early goal and looking to have regained his usual spring in a spirited contest against second-year ruck Billy Longer.

Vice-captain Tom Rockliff said it was great to see the 204cm giant back on the field.

"He just wants to get out there and be a part of it. He's going to add something really good to us this year if we can keep him on the paddock," Rockliff said.

"He's still in that progression of building up towards round one. I think you'll see him NAB [weeks] three and four, not sure if he'll play the first two, but after that you'll see him play a fair bit of game time.

"Knowing the bloke he is, he wants to achieve and be successful. He's going to add something in the midfield and he might be able to drift forward as well. He's eager to go and we're real keen to have him out there."

In a day when Simon Black (knee) sat on the sidelines, it was the young brigade who showed they were hungry for senior selection.
Sam Docherty – in his second season at the Lions – was composed and used the ball superbly off half-back.

Yet to make his debut, the No.12 pick from the 2011 National Draft looks to have the inside running for the role left vacant by the retired Josh Drummond.

Claye Beams was another fringe player from last year who continued to stake his claim, with a good mix of inside ball winning and outside running.

Brent Moloney and Stefan Martin were strong in their first hit-out since joining the Lions from Melbourne in the off-season, while Aaron Cornelius kicked three goals and was the best of the tall forwards.

"I think we've taken another step again this pre-season," Rockliff said.

"We finished the season really strong last year and we committed ourselves to going away and having a big off-season and presenting ourselves in good condition. We've done that.

"I think what we've added to our group is really good. We've still got the great Simon Black to come back into the midfield group so we've got a nice little team building at the moment."

The Lions play their first NAB Cup matches against Gold Coast and Hawthorn on February 23.

Matthew Leuenberger is a $233,600 ruckman in NAB AFL Fantasy.
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Michael Whiting covers Brisbane Lions news for Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_mikewhiting