In a major blow for Brisbane, Lions coach Justin Leppitsch has admitted Dayne Beams will be sidelined indefinitely as the prized midfielder battles knee tendinitis.
Leppitsch’s main concern appeared to be the fitness of youngster Rhys Mathieson (cheekbone) and Jaden McGrath (shoulder) following their final pre-season hitout on Sunday.
Both went down in Sunday’s 39-point NAB Challenge loss to Greater Western Sydney on a rain hit Gold Coast.
And Leppitsch will also be sweating on Dayne Zorko’s fate after his vice-captain was reported for striking in the third term.
However, it emerged that Leppitsch’s biggest worry was a player who didn’t even feature in Sunday’s action – Beams.
Leppitsch revealed Beams had overcome the shoulder injury that forced him to miss the final five games of the 2015 season.
However, the former Collingwood premiership winner has since suffered knee tendinitis.
Leppitsch admitted Beams’ return date was a mystery.
“Beamsy won’t play round one and I am not sure past that,” he said.
“It could be another couple of weeks, it could be a month.
“It is a bit uncertain the end date unfortunately.”
Leppitsch said even if Beams recovered from the injury next week the midfielder would need a month of training to be ready to play again.
“His shoulder is fine but he had a knee flareup on the way back,” he said.
“You’ve got to put a month of conditioning on top once the long term injury is fixed.
“Otherwise they will hurt something else.”
Leppitsch admitted the make-up of his midfield would pose a headache ahead of their March 27 AFL season opener against West Coast.
Captain Tom Rockliff and Allen Christensen have not played a pre-season game but are expected to chime into the midfield against the Eagles.
They should combine with the likes of Dan Rich, Ryan Bastinac, Tom Bell, Pearce Hanley and Mitch Robinson in Beams’ absence.
Zorko’s booking adds another potential midfield concern.
Leppitsch said he would also mull over whether to use another player with no pre-season experience – Josh Green – as a midfielder or small forward in round one.
“We’ve got those headaches to think about,” Leppitsch said.
“It’s just how many of those boys we want to put in against West Coast knowing we have a six-day break after that back here for North (Melbourne in round two).”