McKenna poised for AFL return as Lions reflect on loss

Murray Wenzel |

Conor McKenna (left) is in the mix to make a return for the Brisbane Lions against the Giants.
Conor McKenna (left) is in the mix to make a return for the Brisbane Lions against the Giants.

Conor McKenna’s AFL return is on the cards as the Brisbane Lions attempt to exploit Greater Western Sydney’s biggest strength in a crucial Canberra fixture.

The Irish defender emerged unscathed from the Lions’ VFL clash last weekend, his first game since a hamstring injury in round one against Fremantle.

Coach Chris Fagan on Tuesday said McKenna was in the mix for a return on Thursday, and also confirmed Darcy Fort’s promotion for concussed ruckman Oscar McInerney.

The Giants (5-1) were undone by Carlton in the last round and will sweat on the availability of star pair Toby Greene and Jesse Hogan, who will both challenge one-match suspensions at Tuesday’s tribunal.

Fagan said the Giants’ “system” meant their plans wouldn’t change regardless of that outcome, and he was wary of a side that enjoys attacking at every opportunity.

“They’re a forward handballing, forward kicking team,” he said.

“They’re the team that do that better than anyone in the league.

“You’ve got to be on your toes ready to defend that when the moment comes.

“You do get opportunities the other way if you can turn that ball over because they commit really hard to that surge forward.”

The Lions took time to reflect on a costly loss to Geelong on Saturday –  a third from as many games at the Gabba this year – despite the short turnaround to Thursday’s Anzac Day clash.

Brisbane’s 37 points was their lowest total at the Gabba, the hosts hitting the post three times and kicking just two goals after the 13-minute mark in extremely wet conditions.

The loss came a week after a resounding defeat of Melbourne at the MCG, after they had thumped North Melbourne a week earlier to snap a three-game losing streak to begin the season.

“(The mood’s) pretty good,” Fagan said.

“We don’t like losing, but we had two terrific games … (then) shot ourselves in the foot.

“There’s always good that comes out of a disappointing situation, and for us it was just a good reminder of (how to play) wet-weather footy.

“When it got really wet Geelong were superior. We had a good chat about that and what would we do differently.”