Rayner, Lions search for ‘trademark’ QClash efforts

Murray Wenzel |

Cam Rayner says he and the Lions have to find more consistency ahead of the QClash against the Suns.
Cam Rayner says he and the Lions have to find more consistency ahead of the QClash against the Suns.

Cam Rayner’s task is similar to that of the Brisbane Lions team itself as they prepare for a full examination from in-form AFL rivals Gold Coast.

The explosive forward and former No.1 draft pick has been deployed through the midfield more than ever this season. 

Rayner, like the Lions, has shown glimpses in a hot-and-cold campaign that has them teetering at 2-5 ahead of Sunday’s QClash at the Gabba.

The 25-year-old lit up the MCG with 25 disposals and nine clearances in a win over the Demons that continues to fuel belief last year’s beaten grand finalists are not a spent force.

Quiet nights either side of that in losses – Rayner has 12 clearances in the Lions’ six other games combined – have attracted the critics.

He isn’t interested in attempting to replicate those numbers every week though, instead looking elsewhere to spark a side that’s found different ways to lose.

“It’s hard to come out and say I want to play like that every week … the AFL’s hard,” he said on Thursday.

“The thing I want to focus on is just being a trademark player and doing the things I can do consistently without the ball.”

Rayner said applying pressure and squeezing rivals with oppressive defence were the non-negotiable and two things that were found wanting in last week’s loss to Greater Western Sydney.

“It’s not what we want to be known as,” he said. 

“We’ve been a solid team for a long time and (right now are) probably not producing those standards. 

“It’s very clear we have to get back to those; the focus is to do the things that make each other better.

“Our midfield’s probably been questioned … so has our forward line and our backline, so we’ve got a great opportunity to go and test ourselves (against the Suns).

Lions forward Cam Rayner hopes to find consistency by focusing on defensive actions.

Joe Daniher was absent from Thursday’s Gabba training session due to illness but the Lions expect him to recover fully and play on Sunday.

Papua New Guinea-born, Queensland-raised Bruce Reville will debut for the Lions, the 23-year-old able to play forward or back in a swap with the injured Cal Ah Chee.

The Suns (4-3) are unbeaten at home under new coach Damien Hardwick but yet to win on the road.

They ended a nine-game QClash losing streak with a comprehensive upset of the Lions, Touk Miller picking up a record fourth Ashcroft Medal for best on ground.

The game was not without controversy, Miller suspended despite initially avoiding a charge when Brisbane rival Dayne Zorko used his weekly radio appearance to detail the damage done to his groin region in a tackle.

Zorko and Miller have enjoyed a running battle dating back to 2018, when the then-Lions captain refused to shake his direct opponent’s hand after a close loss.

“It’s one of the games that seems to produce a bit of spite here and there,” Rayner said. 

“But we’ve got things to work on, so whether it’s Gold Coast or any other team we just want to go out there and get it rolling.”