The past few years have seen a plethora of talent signed up to the Brisbane Lions. Perhaps the results have not gone entirely the way of the maroon, blue, and gold, but in Brent Staker and Rohan Bewick, there are two gems who are critical to the next generation of the Lions.
The former West Coast Eagle has been at the Lions for almost four years, but a series of long injuries have curbed both his impact and playing time at the club.
His run across the back line, midfield and forward line make him one of the most diverse Lions on the playing list, in terms of on-field roles. The use of the ball through the midfield in 2010 and part of 2011 marked Staker as a key player to the Lions rebuild, as they started to blood the current core of players. Playing all 22 games in his first season (2010), Staker was the only player in a big recruiting spree to really cement his spot, after many others were tried, tested, and ultimately not fully utilised.
What impresses the most about Staker is he can play almost anywhere and adapt quickly to the situation. Against Essendon in Round 8 of 2013, Staker stood out in the emphatic ten point win. He was everywhere, in the contests getting the ball to his teammates, and becoming a target in forward line.
It was 2011 that saw him go down with an ACL injury. After three months on the sidelines, Staker was incredibly unlucky to suffer a second ACL injury, which knocked him out for the 2012 season.
Despite all his setbacks, the energy that Staker has seems to rub off on the rest of the players, the Lions game being harder and faster when he has the football.
Having missed the majority of 2011, and all of 2012, Staker has once again found his feet in 2013, and despite this season’s results, is continuing to show why Michael Voss wanted him in the side. He is also leading from the front, a role model for the likes of Tom Rockliff, Dayne Zorko and Daniel Rich.
The fast runner and beautiful kick of the footy has built his game from the ground up since his 2011 debut. He is hard at the ball, and has slotted in well with the rest of the midfield group.
Bewick also has the ability to, similar to Staker, move anywhere on the field and still be just as good. Getting games into Bewick now is important; all the assets are there, and they can continue to develop. His influence in the game against Essendon in Melbourne this year was well felt, especially in the first half.
In and out of the side at first, Bewick has consistently tallied some good disposal counts, as well as averaging almost a goal a match. His kick is sharp and seems to always find its target. Being able to see him in action (being at a game) for the first time against Essendon, I was mightily impressed.
Bewick is also very strong with the hands and in the contested mark. He is only 183cm but he has a strong build, giving him the power to wrestle a contest in his favour. He can also go up to the forward line and become a primary target (Bewick kicked three majors against Carlton in round 9). Having established his spot, continuing to work hard is important, as he is fast becoming a mainstay for the Lions.
Staker’s build puts him in the mould of Jonathan Brown, while Bewick can work as both a midfielder and lead up forward. However, both players are working in very similar situations to clear and run the ball. The Lions want to push themselves up the ladder, and Staker and Bewick are just a small, yet major part, of the rebuild. It will be fascinating to see where their careers go.