Years of more disappointment lie ahead if Brisbane’s veterans don’t lift, Lions great Simon Black has warned.
Midfield coach Black said they would provide a glimpse into their future when up to 10 players make their Brisbane debut in Sunday’s home NAB Challenge clash with Gold Coast.
But Black hinted they would get a better insight into their short term fortunes when their experienced core returns for the second game against St Kilda in Mackay.
Skipper Tom Rockliff, Pearce Hanley, Dayne Zorko, Daniel Rich and North Melbourne recruit Ryan Bastinac are all expected to run out against the Saints.
The likes of Rockliff (ribs), Hanley (hip) and midfielder Dayne Beams (shoulder) all had interrupted seasons in 2015 as Brisbane narrowly avoided the wooden spoon.
But Black believed the time for excuses were over for their experienced players if they wanted to start competing with the AFL’s elite.
“There’s guys last year that had interrupted years and guys in that 24 to 26 and 27 age bracket, and for us to fight our way back up the ladder, we need more out of (them),” Black said.
“We’ve got some talented guys that need to regularly produce a little bit more, there’s no question about that.”
That age group covers the likes of Rockliff, Beams, Hanley, Rich and Zorko as well as Stefan Martin, Allen Christensen and Mitch Robinson.
“To put a timeframe on it (revival), it may well take a couple of years to when we can really push the big boys,” Black warned.
“But that said there’s no reason why it can’t happen quickly or we do it this year.
“On the back of last year’s injury toll and a lot of our better players not having full seasons we are really excited by the prospect of what we can serve up.
“It’s a bit of an unknown for us.”
Black said he hoped two missing pieces of the puzzle would start to fit together at Burpengary on Sunday when draftees Josh Schache and Ben Keays make their Lions debut.
He also looked forward to the impact ex-Cat Josh Walker – another Sunday debutant – would make.
“How is that going to add to us?” Black said.
“Add a full year from Hanley and Rockliff, a year where Rich is not coming off a knee reconstruction and we are excited (by the prospect).”