Young Lions give Leppitsch optimism

He’s been saying it for months, now Brisbane coach Justin Leppitsch’s faith in Brisbane’s young AFL group has been somewhat repaid.

The Lions delivered their best performance of a disappointing season against Carlton on Saturday, smashing the Blues by 64-points to move off the bottom of the competition ladder.

Key to the performance was 21-year-old tall forward Johnathan Freeman, who kicked three goals in the first half of his third match of the season, while the game also marked the return to action of ruckman Trent West from a long injury lay-off.

With another forward, Luke McGuane, also making just his second appearance of the season, Leppitsch says the performance showed tough times at the Lions may not be as long-lasting as some may fear.

“I’ve been saying all year we’ve got some kids there that just haven’t played,” he said.

“We’ve missed that key post and all three are there at once with Westy, Luke and Johnno. They’re all still coming back to full fitness, all three of those guys but it’s great to have some targets to kick the ball to isn’t it?”

Another player to shine against the Blues was former Carlton player Mitch Robinson.

The midfielder showed no mercy against his old teammates, crunching Blues skipper Marc Murphy in the opening quarter and having an off-the-ball run-in with Michael Jamison.

In the end Robinson picked up 33 disposals and laid 15 tackles, also kicking a goal.

The display drew praise from Leppitsch, who said the 26-year-old has made the most of his second chance in the AFL following his delisting by the Blues.

“I thought in the first quarter he was the only one who looked like he wanted to get his hands dirty, to be honest,” Leppitsch said.

“He’s been a terrific leader, Mitch, this year. I don’t think it’s anything anyone would have put beside Mitch’s name probably in his playing career … his work behind closed doors and his spirit on the field, he’s as good a leader as we’ve got.”

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