It was a cruel twist that might yet sum up Brisbane’s AFL season.
A rare positive week for the second-last Lions turned sour on Friday when a knee injury not only cost rookie Sam Skinner an AFL debut but also his season.
Scans on Friday confirmed Skinner would require a knee reconstruction after breaking down 24 hours earlier at training.
The 19-year-old defender had been picked to debut against Port Adelaide on Saturday night at the Gabba .
Lions coach Justin Leppitsch admitted it was a blow ahead of the Port clash after the high of last round’s rare away win over Essendon.
“It’s a very emotional time for Sam and all of us really,” Leppitsch said of Skinner.
“It can be a lonely place, rehab.”
Leppitsch still believed his team would line up against a desperate Port with a spring in their step after last week’s triumph snapped a club record 12-game losing run.
“Just to get a win for the group and the club, to take the monkey off the back was really important and builds a bit of confidence,” he said of the Lions (2-15 record).
“I think the boys have been terrific the whole season.
“I think there’s a bit more of a spring in the step.”
After a last-round loss to Greater Western Sydney, the Power (10th; 8-9 record) need to win their last five matches and hope North Melbourne implode to snatch a top-eight finish.
Port’s hot and cold form has renewed speculation this week about player disharmony.
Leppitsch was not taking anything for granted despite the Power’s disruptive lead-up.
He said they had learned a harsh lesson the last time they played – the Lions’ 77-point loss in round seven in Adelaide.
“They’ve had some ups and downs in all facets of their game,” Leppitsch said of Port.
“All you do is expect the best of any team to turn up.
“Last time we played, they murdered us from stoppages – that was the area we really fell down.
“It was 10 goals to zero from stoppages and that was the scoreboard at the end of the day.
“We’ve been working hard at those things.”
Ruckman Archie Smith – son of former NBA and NBL star Andre Moore – will make his AFL debut for Brisbane.
The Lions will also welcome forward Michael Close who plays his first AFL game since round two last year due to a knee injury.