Lions coach expects Pies to be prepared

Brisbane coach Justin Leppitsch admits he’s not sure what to expect from Collingwood in Saturday’s AFL clash at the Gabba.

The Magpies’ preparations for the round-one encounter were derailed earlier this week when Josh Thomas and Lachie Keeffe were provisionally suspended for testing positive to the performance-enhancing substance clenbuterol.

The bans will stand pending the results of their B samples being known later this month.

As Leppitsch prepares his Lions to take on the Magpies on Saturday, he says it’s unclear just what effect the scandal will have on the rest of the club’s players.

But he finds it hard to believe their opponents won’t be fully focused on delivering a good result in their first game of the season.

“Seriously, everyone is up for this week and ready to go and passionate about it,” Leppitsch told reporters.

“Everyone does a lot of work on their first opposition because you get six months to plan for them. It makes for a good game.”

Leppitsch is heading into the first game touting the increased experience he can now boast in his midfield with the off-season additions of Allen Christensen and former Magpie Dayne Beams as well as Daniel Rich’s return from a serious knee injury.

The focus on Beams has been particularly intense with the 25-year-old to face his former club in his first outing as a Lion.

Not that Leppitsch would know if the midfielder is feeling any pressure.

“Seriously, he’s the James Dean of the competition, he’s cool, he’s calm,” Leppitsch said.

“There might be stuff going on inside him but you’d never tell with Beamsy, he’s a very cool customer.

“Our midfield was extremely inexperienced last year and it was filled with (Marco) Paparone and (James) Aish and (Mitch) Robertson and players like that.

“This year now with Rich back, (Matthew) Leuenberger back and you add Beams and Christensen to that mix, you take your average age and ramp it up and become more competitive in the most important part of the ground.”

The Lions are also set to hand Jaden McGrath a debut against the Magpies, with Leppitsch admitting the youngster had definitely caught everyone by surprise.

“Pretty simple lesson in life, if you put in good performances, put your head over the ball, do what’s asked, you get a go,” Leppitsch said.

“Over the weeks I was probably trying to find way to keep him out of the team because you’re thinking ‘he’s a pick 70, he’s a skinny kid, surely this can’t be happening’ but he’s defied all those odds.”

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