'We'll be a worry for other midfields': Bold strategy pays off for Lions

BRISBANE'S bold midfield rotation policy came up trumps in the opening round of this year’s NAB AFL Women’s competition, but don't expect the Lions to keep it the same for the remainder of the season. 

Against Greater Western Sydney last Sunday, coach Craig Starcevich rotated just four players through his three midfield spots: Emily Bates, Ally Anderson, Nat Exon (pictured above) and Jordan Zanchetta.

It meant the quartet would often get just two or three minutes on the bench each quarter and be forced to play onball the rest of the time. 

The quartet, along with teenage ruck duo Lauren Bella and Jesse Wardlaw, were instrumental in the two-point victory at Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex, but Anderson admitted she got tired towards the end of the match.

"I felt like I ran out of legs a bit, so we might need a bit of adjustment," she said. 

"But we bonded well and we have a tight group, with everyone on the same page. If we keep doing the same thing, we'll be a worry for other midfields." 

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Anderson and Bates each gathered an equal match-high 22 disposals, and despite losing the clearance count 22-29, the Lions looked cohesive around stoppages with slick hands and quick exits. 

Anderson said it would be a juggling act for the remainder of the season, starting Sunday against Fremantle in Perth.

"It's a small group this year, which is different. We usually have 10 midfielders rolling through," she said. 

"Lauren Bella was tapping it to where we needed it to be and we did what we did in practice.

"We knew what we wanted to do and it felt like a lot of the time it came off. We were on the same page." 

Brisbane is expecting to regain Breanna Koenen this weekend, with the half-back-turned-midfielder recovering from a pre-season knee injury. 

Koenen could find herself in the midfield rotation. 

Anderson paid tribute to new Lions assistant coach Simon Black, saying the 2002 Brownlow medallist had had a big influence since joining the team. 

"Learning about bodywork and being able to manoeuvre our opponents has really helped us," she said.