Brisbane are poised to select captain Tom Rockliff for Sunday’s AFL clash with West Coast at the Gabba but will only play him if he can prove he’s ready.
The winless Lions have missed Rockliff since he suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung during the round one loss to Collingwood.
Initial predictions suggested the 25-year-old would miss six weeks with the injury.
But coach Justin Leppitsch believes if Rockliff can prove his fitness in a training session on Thursday he’ll be good to return against the Eagles.
“I’d love to give you an answer right now but we’ll have training this afternoon, more than likely pick him in the team and then wait and see how he goes,” Leppitsch said.
“He has to be able to do all the movements that are in the game, if he can do all those he’ll more than likely wear a brace so the impact won’t be an issue and then we’ve ticked all the boxes haven’t we.”
One thing Leppitsch says he will not do is rush Rockliff back into his team.
Despite the Lions desperately seeking their first win of the campaign, Leppitsch says there’s no benefit to throwing Rockliff back into the mix before he’s ready.
“Tom will only come back if he’s fit to play,” he said.
“It doesn’t bother me if we’re 0-18, you’re only playing a fit player.”
Leppitsch says Matthew Leuenberger will present a selection headache after making his comeback from injury in the Lions’ reserves last weekend.
The Lions coach says Stef Martin did a satisfactory job against Adelaide last week and he’s not going to pick two ruckmen simply to combat the Eagles’ Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett.
“One thing that was proven against us when we had two rucks, the opposition came in with one and did okay, I don’t think that’s necessarily the issue,” he said.
Leppitsch admits he is getting feelings of deja vu when it comes to the Lions’ winless start after they went 0-5 at the start of 2014.
The Lions snapped that losing run with a victory over St Kilda on Anzac Day in Wellington and Leppitsch said he was hopeful the Anzac weekend would prove a good one again for the club.
“Maybe it’s destiny again? Maybe next year we can bring round one back to Anzac Day?,” he said.
“We’ll wait and see. Let’s hope it starts this week, start to bring the positivity back.”