Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch has pressed his AFL club’s case for a priority draft pick.
Brisbane are expected to ask the AFL to grant them a priority pick following a season in which their on-field failings have been brutally exposed.
If the Lions finish last, which appears likely, it means they will have first choice in the AFL draft later this year plus, if approved, a priority selection at the end of the first round.
Leppitsch said while the decision would be up to the AFL, which last year denied Melbourne’s request for a priority pick and has not granted one since rules were changed in 2012, he believed the Lions could mount a strong argument.
“It depends how quickly the AFL community want us to get better,” Leppitsch said.
“We’ve had a huge amount of list changes and list challenges.
“I think Paul Roos said the same thing about Melbourne last year… how quickly can you get better, particularly now that there’s free agency and you can just top up with someone of equal quality.
“If we win the last six games they’ll definitely say no, won’t they? Lose the last six, who knows? That’s out of our hands.”
The AFL may allow Brisbane a priority pick, if for no other reason than to give the game a much-needed boost in Queensland.
The Lions and Gold Coast Suns have both had horrific seasons with crowds and public interest dropping for both teams in the expansion market ahead of a late-season battle between them to avoid the wooden spoon.
It hasn’t helped that Queensland-based NRL teams Brisbane and North Queensland are flying, filling the top two spots on the NRL ladder.
Meanwhile, Leppitsch said James Aish’s season-ending finger injury won’t mean talks over his future will be accelerated.
Aish has been strongly linked with a move away from the Gabba next year, most likely to Carlton, and has repeatedly put off talks over a contract extension with Brisbane.
Leppitsch said the Lions remained hopeful of keeping the South Australian product.
“He’s only just had his surgery, it’s not as if we’ve run to his hospital bed and said ‘what are you doing?'” Leppitsch said.
Leppitsch also indicated both Dayne Beams (shoulder) and Pearce Hanley (hamstring), who were both late withdrawals from last weekend’s clash with North Melbourne, were a good chance of being named to face Geelong on Saturday.