Ryan Harwood is poised to become a permanent fixture in the Brisbane Lions back six this season after a string of impressive pre-season performances.
The rebounding defender all but cemented his spot for the round one clash against Hawthorn with an efficient and controlled 24 disposals in Brisbane’s win over Gold Coast.
Originally drafted from Tasmania as an inside midfielder, the Lion’s coaching staff shifted Harwood to defence after he struggled to adapt to the running standards involved with being an AFL midfielder. The big-bodied defender has subsequently added polish and dash to his outside game in a move that has given new life to his fledging career.
Given a chance towards the back end of 2013, Harwood played 12 of the last 13 games and was a key component of the Lion’s defensive unit in the side’s late-season dash for the top eight.
Having looked to have sewn up his spot in the Lions best 22, Harwood was forced to set about proving himself once again with the surprise sacking of Voss. However the appointment of new coach Justin Leppitsch has not appeared to alter Harwood’s progression towards a breakout year, with the 23 year old showing great poise and run from the Lions half back line in the early parts of 2014.
In his time as coach of the Lion’s, Leigh Matthew’s stated that by the time a player had reached 50 games he could always tell whether or not they would make it at AFL level.
Just eight games shy of this mark, Ryan Harwood will be hoping season 2014 will make it easy for Matthews to decide.