Brandon Starcevich has grabbed the chance to be part of Brisbane’s new-look back six after his early shutdown of one of the AFL’s most devastating forwards.
The 20-year-old Starcevich was given the job of containing Fremantle’s All-Australian Michael Walters on Saturday and did just that to earn the coach’s plaudits in just his seventh game.
A follow-up assignment on West Coast’s Liam Ryan or Jamie Cripps now awaits as 2000 die-hard fans prepare to return to the Gabba for the round three game on Saturday night.
Six games across the previous two seasons are an indication of how tough it’s been to crack the improved Lions’ matchday squad.
But it’s a new-look defensive crew this season, with recruits Grant Birchall (Hawthorn) and Callum Ah Chee (Gold Coast) joining regulars Harris Andrews, Darcy Gardiner and Daniel Rich against the Dockers.
Luke Hodge has retired, while Starcevich beat fellow up-and-comer Noah Answerth for the final berth.
“Last year, with the way we were going – you don’t want to change a winning team – so it was hard to get a crack in,” Starcevich said.
“This year I’ve got my chance so hopefully I stick in there.”
Starcevich’s early work to silence Walters set the tone last weekend, the young gun full of confidence thanks to his training battles with Charlie Cameron.
“He’s (Walters) a good player, it was a big challenge he got off the chain at the end (with two opportunistic goals),” he said.
“But it’s good to play on those sort of guys, you learn a lot of stuff, how to handle those blokes and I’ll be better for it going forward.”
The Lions are bracing for a response from the Eagles, who were humbled by Gold Coast to begin their Queensland hub stay.
“We’re expecting them to come out with a bit of heat after that result on the weekend, they’ll bring their best for sure,” Starcevich said.
“They (the Suns) played well; it was good to watch, but didn’t do us any favours.”