Brisbane Lions during a training session.
Brisbane Lions during a training session. Geoff Potter - Noosa News

Tall tips for Longer

BRISBANE Lion Billy Longer admitted yesterday that in his side's 29-point loss to the Fremantle Dockers last Saturday, Aaron Sandilands showed him a thing or two about how to be a ruckman to be feared.

Longer, 18, had a baptism of fire in his AFL debut at Patersons Stadium against 172-gamer Sandilands.

Longer had first crack at the towering 211cm tall, 122kg All-Australian and won the first three hit-outs, but Sandilands went on to dominate with 54 hit-outs to the Lions ruckman's 19.

"He's just got that physical presence - you can't look past his extra 10cm and 20-odd kilos," Longer said.

"He showed me a couple of tricks ... it's added to the knowledge of the game for me."

Despite his inexperience, Longer, Brisbane's first draft choice last year, will get more game time this Saturday night in the third Q Clash against the Gold Coast Suns at the Gabba due to Lions big man Matthew Leuenberger suffering a recurrence of an Achilles injury against the Dockers.

Leuenberger is expected to miss up to six weeks.

Longer said: "I see it more as an opportunity for me rather than added pressure (stepping into his role)."

The youngster said as well as trying to beat his own opponents, such as Suns ruckmen Zac Smith and Josh Faser, he had to be aware of superstar Gary Ablett, who was in career-best form.

"When you've got Gaz roving the packs, you've got to make sure you're not hitting him on the chest," Longer said.

Like Longer, Lions midfielder Jared Polec sees 2012 as a year of opportunity after an injury-interrupted 2011, his debut season.

The club's first draft choice in 2010, Polec said he was trying to regain his confidence and bring an attacking style to the team.

Polec kicked an amazing 65m running goal against the Dockers to well and truly prove he had bounced back from last year's setbacks.

He said the Lions' defence was "fantastic", after it kept the Dockers to just 64 points, but acknowledged his teammates needed to work on their attack, which could manage only 35 points last Saturday.



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