With six weeks of the marathon run, the line between contenders and pretenders is becoming much more opaque.
Although 94.4% of the competition’s 18-teams have now put a win on the board, the gap between first and last is still chasmic.
As we edged toward the end of the season’s second month, the question marks surrounding every side – whether they are leading the league or languishing – are still aplenty.
With Round 7 set to start this Friday night, we have cast an eye across each of the league's combatants and have sought to answer the key questions facing each and every one of them.
Who replaces their Brownlow Medalist?
With a back complaint and now a dodgy ankle, the reigning Brownlow medalist Lachie Neale’s 2021 season has been like anyone ever engaged in a conversation with Eddie Maguire – consistently interrupted.
As the South Australian superstar is set to miss the next two-months, the question is now at the feet of Chris Fagan – how does he replace his greatest asset in the engine room?
— Zero Hanger (@zerohanger) April 25, 2021
Although the Lions have a list that bats deep, not many of their players vying for selection offer their coach a ‘like for like’ option.
Names like Jarrod Berry, Nakia Cockatoo, Rhys Mathieson and eventually, Cam Ellis-Yolman will be considered to fill a need, however, it is their skipper that should sit first on the starting grid.
So far this season, Dayne Zorko has attended just 76 of Brisbane’s 165 centre bounces - a percentage of just 46.06.
"Everyone goes out and plays their role, and whoever comes in will do a fantastic job."
— Brisbane Lions (@brisbanelions) April 28, 2021
Still, after Neale was restricted last weekend against the Blues, the ball around the 32-year old’s ankle was removed, as Zorko attended 68% of the game’s centre bounces.
Across the time spent in ‘the guts’ last Saturday evening, Zorko produced a season high for tackles, clearances, one percenters and free kicks for.
With the Lions’ season still currently sitting precariously at 3-3, and with a date against Port’s powerful midfield on Saturday night, Fagan will be best served returning his skipper to the middle on a full-time basis, rather than hoping to roll seven or eleven with an untried, or inferior, player.