He grew up supporting them and now Brisbane Lions recruit Tom Bell says he is looking forward to helping the AFL strugglers turn over a new leaf in 2016.
Bell, a Morningside product, lived in the next suburb over from the Gabba as a child and will pull on the Lions’ guernsey for the first time in Sunday’s opening pre-season clash against Gold Coast at Burpengary.
The 24-year-old midfielder was traded with draft pick 41 by Carlton late last year, after playing 51 games for the Blues, in exchange for Brisbane’s picks 21 and 60.
“It’s obviously pretty exciting. I grew up supporting the Lions,” Bell told reporters on Wednesday.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
Bell said he knew full well what he was getting himself into when he requested a move to the Lions, who finished 17th in 2015 and are tipped to struggle again this season with one of the AFL’s youngest lists.
However, after several years of trade-week blood-letting as key players sought trades to more successful clubs, Brisbane’s recruiting focus has turned to former locals, academy products and those truly in for the long haul, with Bell a perfect example.
“I knew it was a young list. We’ve only got three players over the age of 26,” he said.
“Most of the boys getting out there on the weekend are going to be pretty young and haven’t played many games.
“It’ll be exciting to see how they go, I’m sure they’ll be raring for an opportunity.”
Bell was best on ground in Brisbane’s final internal trial clash last Friday and has been one of their top performers throughout pre-season.
He’s also switched one top-class mentor, retired Blues great Chris Judd, for another, triple-premiership player Simon Black, a Lions assistant coach.
“We’ve got a few focuses I’ve had to nut into and a few negatives in my game we’re working on. I’m fighting fit,” he said.
“Working with them has been a great experience, going from Juddy to Blacky – two of the best.
“Those guys are the ultimate professionals, they’ve won pretty much every accolade in the game.”