Cornelius works on earning his place in Lions pride

Jack Frost of the Magpies and Aaron Cornelius of the Lions contest the ball during the round three NAB Cup AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium on March 9, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.
Jack Frost of the Magpies and Aaron Cornelius of the Lions contest the ball during the round three NAB Cup AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium on March 9, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. Robert Prezioso / Getty Images

NOT tall enough, not desperate enough, not fit enough and not consistent enough.

Former highly-rated Tasmanian junior Aaron Cornelius knows exactly why he has played just 22 games for the Brisbane Lions after being taken with pick 57 in the 2008 National AFL Draft.

But this could be the year the 22-year-old cements his place in the forward line alongside inspirational skipper Jonathan Brown.

Cornelius, Tasmania's captain in the 2008 national U18 championships, was considered to have "the best pair of hands for his age in Australia" when he earned All-Australian honours playing for the Apple Islanders at the championships the previous year.

His marking has been one of the highlights for the Lions in their 2013 NAB Cup campaign, which has seen the team earn a place in Friday night's grand final against Carlton at Etihad Stadium.

But it has been his improvement in other areas that has Cornelius hopeful 2013 could be the year he comes of age, pointing to the benefits of a high-altitude training camp in Arizona in November.

"I've certainly had one of my best pre-seasons. My fitness is good, I'm getting to a lot more contests - training in Arizona definitely helped me in that," he said.

His improved fitness has also helped his defensive pressure, that aspect of his game rewarded against Collingwood on Saturday night when he booted his second goal after running down Magpies ruckman Darren Jolly in the first quarter.

Cornelius finished the game with three majors, coming on top of his five against GWS in Wagga Wagga the previous week.

Despite standing 192cm and weighing 88kgs, he has been told he isn't big enough to hold down a key forward position.

But the return of Brown against Collingwood, and the arrival of ruckman/forward Stefan Martin from Melbourne has opened the door for Cornelius to slot in as the third tall in Brisbane's forward line, creating a difficult match-up for opposition backlines.

While coach Michael Voss was furious the Lions have been forced to return to Melbourne after away games in the past two weeks, Cornelius said most of the players didn't mind.

"A lot of the guys are from interstate so they don't mind travelling," he said.

"Everyon'e happy just to be playing footy."

Especially Aaron Cornelius.



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