Brisbane searches for inside fix

BRISBANE have the worst contested possession numbers in the competition according to the AFL’s official statistics collector Champion Data.

The Lions currently find themselves sitting on the bottom of the ladder, but have a winnable clash against North Melbourne at the Gabba on Saturday, with a win to see them avoid winning their second wooden spoon.

With Saturday’s clash deciding who will have the number one pick – who could Brisbane look to recruit in the AFL Draft that will help boost their contested numbers?

Contested footy explained, as per Champion Data statistics. Photo: Sam Landsberger/Twitter

Speaking on the Herald Sun and Champion Data’s Podcast ‘The Drill’, Champion Data’s Daniel Hoyne revealed that Champion Data numbers rank the Brisbane Lions in the bottom four in all key contested footy numbers. There are eight to nine elements that make up the contested possession total number, including contested marks and some free kicks.

Contested possessions: 

Throughout the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships, 22 players had over 50 per cent of their total possessions in the contest, with Allies tall forward Hugh Dixon leading the competition with 67.4 per cent (of players who played two or more games). Dixon’s numbers are helped with his high number of contested marks and it’s a reason why many tall players such as Oscar Allen, Sam Hayes and Callum Coleman-Jones feature in the top 22.

The list also includes possible number one draft picks Paddy Dow and Cameron Rayner – with the Lions possibly landing one of the duo at the end of the season.

With the Lions set to pick up Jack Payne by matching a likely bid in the third or fourth round on draft night, key position players aren’t probably at the top of the Brisbane Lions draft rankings.

22 players had 50 per cent+ contested possession percentage in the Under 18 Championships. (Minimum two games).

Geelong Falcons midfielders Cassidy Parish and James Worpel are two of the best contested ball winners in the TAC Cup. Parish’s average of 14.4 contested possessions per game puts him in the top group of contested players – while teammate Worpel isn’t far behind with 11.5.

Hunter Clark (13.4 contested possessions) and Jack Higgins (10.9 contested possessions) are two others who are high in the TAC Cup contested possession winners – with the pair likely to come into consideration for Brisbane’s first round pick that is tied to Port Adelaide’s finishing position.

Vic Metro and Eastern Ranges midfielder Dylan Moore is another name who the Lions will no doubt have in their minds, with Moore averaging 14 contested possessions in six TAC Cup games this season.

In the AFL, the Brisbane Lions are -236 in ground ball gets. Put simply – ground ball is a 50/50 contested at ground level.

Throughout the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships, Moore’s ground ball numbers were exceptionally high – including a game-high 13 GH against Western Australia in Vic Metro’s opening game.

The four contenders for Brisbane’s first pick: 

The four most likely contenders for the number one pick.

Each category has been ranked, with green being the best, yellow the second best, white third & red in four position. In the case of a category being equal, the most relevant category has been chosen. 

Vic Metro midfielder Adam Cerra is out for the season after having shoulder injury, while Vic Country’s Paddy Dow may face surgery after a shoulder injury last weekend in the Pioneers loss.

Dow accumulated 35 disposals (21 contested), seven inside 50s, six clearances and booted two goals against Gippsland Power.

Luke Davies-Uniacke was a favourite for the number one pick early in the season after an outstanding NAB AFL Academy game against the Northern Blues. Davies-Uniacke also blitzed the first half of the APS season.

Cameron Rayner plays like Christian Petracca and Robbie Gray – and there’s no doubt he is an exciting footballer to watch. While his endurance is an area of improvement, he can simply do things that no other players can do in this draft pool.

It’s a tough decision for the Lions – and whether they finish 18th or 17th will affect who they may select. But all four players have their areas of strength as the above table suggests – and you could make a case that you couldn’t lose with any of the four.

But again we come back to the whole point of this article – that Brisbane are ranked 18th in contested footy. And if you’re purely basing the selection off the stats from the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships, Dow comes out on top over Rayner.

Paddy Dow – 61.3%
Cam Rayner – 59.2%

So Brisbane Lions fans, who would you take with your first pick? Let me know on Twitter @MattBalmer7


  1. Great analysis. Brisbane likes Vic country boys over metro when given a choice. And Fagan and Noble like great kicks (Witherden, Cox, McCluggage ). To me, that says Dow if available.

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