Lincoln McCarthy of the Lions in action.
Lincoln McCarthy of the Lions in action.

Secret ingredient to Lions’ success

Lincoln McCarthy took seven years to reach 29 games at Geelong and has not missed a week since joining the Lions.

The crafty forward, who will notch a long-awaited 50 game milestone against his former club at the Gabba on Saturday, is another reason the Lions are becoming a destination club.

Coach Chris Fagan and veteran Luke Hodge aren't the only reasons there is a Hawthorn vibe about the Lions, so is their injury management record under head of medical Peter Blanch.

In addition to the chance of tasting the ultimate success, the Hawks' track record of getting players such as Shaun Burgoyne, Jaeger O'Meara and Tom Scully back to full fitness is an often-stated reason why so many players want to go there.

Blanch arrived at Brisbane just before Fagan after a distinguished career at the AIS, and has arguably been just as instrumental in the Lions' ascent up the AFL ladder.

He and strength and conditioning coach Damian Austin have developed one of the league's fittest lists and certainly its most durable.

No one misses games or training sessions unnecessarily, which skipper Dayne Zorko proved when he played a starring role in the Q-Clash despite sitting out close to a half of the previous week's win over the Bulldogs with his hamstring iced.

Fagan has close to a full list to choose from each week and with so many fit AFL-listed players forced to run around in the reserves, the NEAFL side is unbeatable.

AFL figures reveal Brisbane ranked 17th and 18th in the AFL for player availability in 2016 and 2017 and has now been No.1 the past two years.

 

Lincoln McCarthy has buried his injury demons since arriving at Brisbane.
Lincoln McCarthy has buried his injury demons since arriving at Brisbane.

 

McCarthy played 19 games for the Cats in 2016, his best return before this season.

The other years were wiped out by succession of foot, back, hip, quad, groin and hamstring injuries.

It was Peter Stanton, a revered physio at the Lions during the premiership years who now has a practice in Geelong, who suggested Blanch might be the man to finally get his body in the sort of shape that would allow him to showcase his undoubted talents.

CEO Greg Swann says the club's impressive record was a key selling point to potential recruits.

"We use it, if there is a doubt on blokes we are talking to we can point to the work Blanchey and Damian are doing,'' he said.

"Marcus Adams had a bit of an injury history and it took us a while to get him up and going but he is starting to hit his straps now.

"And certainly with Linc it was a big factor, the story goes that Peter Stanton told him this guy will get you going.''