Emotional Lions teen to make AFL debut
Emotional teenager Kai Lohmann will make his AFL debut for the Brisbane Lions on Thursday night after just three games for the club’s VFL team.
Lions coach Chris Fagan revealed on Wednesday the 18-year-old forward – pick No.20 in last years’s AFL draft – will be in Brisbane’s 22 for the clash against Collingwood at the Gabba.
Lohmann’s form, which has included nine goals in his three VFL matches, has demanded his inclusion.
“It’s his first year here, but he’s kicked a lot of goals over the last three weeks, his tackle pressure’s fantastic and he’s got a few different attributes that we think in time will give the opposition difficulty,” Fagan said.
“Whether he can do that (on Thursday) night, I’m not sure. It’s always hard in your first game but we’re really pleased to have him out on the field.
“I don’t think he’ll be intimidated.”
Fagan was touched by Ballarat product Lohmann’s reaction when told he would be making his top-flight debut.
“For any young man, playing your first AFL game is a big thing,” the Lions coach said.
“Probably out of all the boys I’ve told over the years, he was probably more emotional than anyone I’ve seen.
“It means a lot to him. Sometimes it’s all about going to kids’ backgrounds and what they’ve gone through to get to this point.
“I know some of his background, but not all of his background. I don’t 100 per cent know why, but I just saw the emotion there. He was so excited.
“I just said ‘go out and play to your strengths’. Hopefully he can be mentally clear enough to do that.”
The return of ruckman Oscar McInerney will be the other change to a Brisbane side keen to bounce back from its first defeat of the season, a narrow loss to Geelong at GMHBA Stadium last Friday night.
“He’s a pretty important player for our side,” Fagan said of McInerney.
As is 2020 Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale, who will make his 200th AFL appearance on Thursday night.
“Lachie’s a great story to all young footballers,” Fagan said.
“He was pick 58 in the national draft … it just shows you don’t have to be a top 10 pick to turn yourself into a great player, and that’s what he’s done.
“He’s very self driven.”
Fagan expects a tough encounter against the Magpies, who have won two from four this season.
“They could easily be on top of the ladder at the moment,” he said.
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