The speculation finally ends this week as the talking is replaced with the action of the 2015 AFL season. Round 1 is a bit like being a teenager again. 3 hours on Saturday night can reaffirm all your hopes and dreams or it can give you the feeling that your whole world is crashing down around you. There’s nothing quite like a first up loss to have you wondering if the running, sweating and occasional vomiting endured over the last four and a half months is going to pay dividends.
When it comes to offseason hype no one has been more prevalent than the Brisbane Lions. An undefeated pre-season coupled with an aggressive recruitment drive under the eye of new CEO Greg Swann saw the Lions gain AFL experienced midfielders in the form of Dayne Beams, Allen Christensen and Mitch Robinson.
After expressing a desire to move North to be closer to his ill Father, the Lions traded pick 5 and 21 in the national draft along with youngster Jack Crisp in order to secure the services of former Collingwood man Beams. With a premiership and best and fairest already under his belt, Beams has become a talismanic figure for the Lions faithful without having played a competitive match in Brisbane colours. As distinguishable for his immense talent as he is for ink work that might have drawn the ire of a Newman government. Beams performance this season isn’t just important to Brisbane’s ambitions, it’s critical. And it’s fitting that the Lions take their first step towards those ambitions in a Saturday night blockbuster against Beams’ old club Collingwood.
If Brisbane has been the most hyped team of the offseason Collingwood are the club to which most questions have been posed. Since favourite son Nathan Buckley took over as coach the pies have slid from Grand finalists to 4th,6th and then 11th in Buckley’s three years at the helm. There is always pressure coaching the biggest club in the land, there’s even more when you’re not winning. Add to that the distraction of two players being suspended for testing positive to the performance enhancing substance clenbuterol, all eyes will be on the Magpies to see how they respond. However, for all that can be said for Collingwood’s slide and their attempts to rejuvenate their list, they still have an experienced group that is the envy of many. At his best, Travis Cloke remains one of the competitions elite power forwards whilst a midfield that boasts the likes of superstar Scott Pendlebury and Brownlow medallist Dane Swan will keep the Lions more than honest.
And so the Gabba plays host to a round 1 Saturday night prize fight with the combatants bringing their own sources of motivation. The youngster looking to live up to its billing and the stumbling champions desperate to show there is still plenty of fight left.