MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 02: Alex Witherden of the Lions is tackled by Darcy Parish of the Bombers during the 2017 AFL round 15 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium on July 02, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Brisbane Lions young gun Alex Witherden has extended his playing contract to the end of 2020.

Witherden joins key Brisbane youngsters Cam Rayner, Hugh McCluggage and Eric Hipwood in extending their time at the Lions in recent times, a great sign for the club.

“It’s extremely exciting and I’m really thankful to the Club for sticking with me for another two years,” Witherden told lions.com.au.

Witherden played nine games in his debut season, averaging 23 disposals and being nominated for the Rising Star award for his excellent play off half-back.

“Alex made a strong impression in the nine games that he played in 2017. This was off the back of almost 12 months out of the game with a broken leg,” Lions Coach Chris Fagan told the club’s website.

“He has had a consistent pre-season and is set to build on the excellent form he displayed in the second half of last year. His ability to be a future leader of our club is also emerging.”

General Manager of Football David Noble was also ecstatic about Witherden’s commitment, noting his maturity as a key to his early success.

“We are extremely excited to secure Alex here at the Gabba until 2020,” Noble said.

“We look forward to watching him grow with us and seeing what he, along with our emerging group of re-signings, will bring in the coming years.

“Alex is a bright, young man with footy smarts well beyond his 19 years.”

Academy graduate Jack Payne is another Lion cub to extend his contract to 2020 in a strong sign of the improved culture of the club.