PUNTED: Tom Bell has been dropped from the Lions side to play Collingwood.
PUNTED: Tom Bell has been dropped from the Lions side to play Collingwood. TRACEY NEARMY

Tough Fagan keeps wielding the axe at Lions

BRISBANE coach Chris Fagan makes no apologies for swinging the axe at the selection table for Sunday's clash with Collingwood at the MCG.

The Lions have five changes to the side humbled by Adelaide, with ruckman Archie Smith and midfielder Rhys Mathieson to play their first senior matches of the year.

Tom Bell, Josh Walker and Ryan Harwood were dropped on Thursday night when Brisbane announced its extended 25-man squad.

The changes will make Brisbane's side even younger but Fagan said players must produce or perish.

"Claye Beams is out injured [hamstring] and the other boys have gone out of the team on form. That's the policy that we've had all year,'' Fagan said.

"We'll bring five players into the team. It will make us a really young team. The average age will be about 22 and a half and have 15 guys 22 years of age or less.

"We are going down to the MCG to play one of the great traditional clubs and we think that will be a fantastic opportunity for those young players.

"They deserve it, the guys that are coming in. They've been in really good form in the NEAFL and I'm sure they'll have an impact at AFL level.''

One young gun who will not be at the MCG is key forward Josh Schache who has been rested this week after having just four touches in the NEAFL last weekend. He was dropped from the seniors the week before after a run of poor form.

"We do that with some of our players. We rested Hugh McCluggage and let him go home and have a bit of a spell. That's standard with young bodies and hard seasons,'' Fagan said.

"Particularly with young forwards playing up against big bodies every week. It's required from time to time.

"We were hopeful for more (than four disposals in the NEAFL) but the fact we are sending him home is indicative that he is a little flat and tired at the moment and needed a bit of rest.''

Fagan said the Magpies were travelling much better than their win-loss record suggests.

"It's funny with Collingwood because they've lost a lot of games this year by not much and inaccurate kicking has really hurt them. So they could quite easily be a top six team at the moment," he said.

"Their midfield is outstanding. We'll have to play well in that area of the ground to have a chance to achieve victory.

"They've got some dangerous little forwards and they are building as a team. So it's a big challenge for us but one we are looking forward to.

"It's about our ability to play consistently over four quarters. Our very good footy is competitive with some of the best teams in the AFL but we just always find a patch or a quarter where we let ourselves down.

"It's the characteristic of a young team but it drives the coaches and the players mad.''

News Corp Australia

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