Pacy Lion finds a spot in star-studded pack
ZAC Bailey is fast, but he admits there’s at least two quicker players on the Brisbane Lions’s list.
“We haven’t had a running race or anything, but Charlie Cameron’s pretty quick .... and James Madden, the Irishman, is very quick,” he said.
Yet to debut, Madden clocked a lightning 2.76 seconds over 20m at the European Draft Combine in 2018, marginally slowly than Joel Wilkinson’s AFL benchmark 2.75 seconds.
Cameron, meanwhile, regularly runs rings around opposition defenders and has a top timed speed of 35.28km/h (in 2019), ranking him seventh in the competition.
Bailey (2.98 seconds over 20m at his draft combine in 2017) is making the most of his own turn of speed - and coach Chris Fagan’s want for as much pace in the Lions’ line-up as possible.
Having filled in at opposite ends of the ground in his first two seasons, the 20-year-old is becoming one of the integral members of a star-studded midfield.
“I’ve sort of found a spot on the wing, rotating through there and a little bit forward.
“That’s probably my preference. I can put all my emphasis on that, working more with Mitch Robinson, Jarryd Berry and Hugh McCluggage.
“There’s obviously quality midfielders in there.”
Fagan initially had Bailey earmarked as a rebounding half-back due to his run and carry, but the NT product has shown how dangerous he can be in the forward half with his creativity and pressure.
He gathered just the 10 touches in the impressive win over West Coast on Saturday but was lively, and booted his first goal of the year.
Bailey has played 30 games and is hoping for a clear run with injuries after suffering two hamstring setbacks in consecutive years.
Originally from the Northern Territory, he opted to stay in Brisbane during the coronavirus lockdown.
“Mum’s in Darwin, and my dad’s in Portland in Victoria,” said Bailey, who lives with teammates Dan McStay and Tom Joyce.
“It was easiest just to stay in Brisbane.
“It has been hard. But I went to boarding school five years ago (at Prince Alfred College, Adelaide), so it probably wasn’t has hard for me as it was for others.”