Starcevich praises Lions resolve in wake of “devastating” injury

IN THE wake of a suspected serious knee injury to young gun Lily Postlethwaite, Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich has praised the the resolve of his group during the Lions’ 49-point win over Fremantle.

Postlethwaite was in her first game back since injuring her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the 2021 AFL Women’s season, but innocuously fell to the ground as she was changing directions to win the ground ball with four and a half minutes into the first term. She was helped from the ground with the Lion set to have scans today to confirm the severity of the injury.

“We’re not sure until she gets scanned, but when they hobble off and they look like that, it’s never a great sign,” Starcevich said in his post-match press conference. “Clearly she’s got some very close mates who were affected by it, and knowing how hard she’s worked to get back to today, is just devastating. We don’t know what the outcome is yet until we get the scans.”

Starcevich said that injury happening so early in the match visibly affected the team, so was proud of how his chargers were able to regroup and focus on the task at hand.

“It was a little patch in the third quarter where we got scored against maybe a fraction too easily, but for the main part we controlled most of the game, even at quarter time when it was a goal each we probably had most of the play in our forward half,” Starcevich said. “It was just pleasing, particularly after the events of Lily’s injury around quarter time. That’s obviously affected the group at that point, but they got themselves together and finished off the game really strongly.”

Another player who returned was Orla O’Dwyer, with the Irish winger kicking a goal in her first competitive match since her long-term shoulder reconstruction. She joined a trio of forwards in Courtney Hodder, Jesse Wardlaw and Greta Bodey who all kicked multiple goals in the win. Starcevich said it was good to get a spread of contributors in the front half, especially with known goalkicker Dakota Davidson swung into defence after Postlethwaite went down.

“It’s something we’ve been looking at across the preseason, should we come up against teams where we need a bit of extra height in that part of the ground,” Starcevich said of Davidson’s switch. “It’s someone we can flip back there. “As it turned out, Lily (going down) wasn’t replacing like for like, but it was a good opportunity to put Daks back there for a bit of a trial run in case we need her in the future. Be nice for her as a footballer to have both strings to a bow, be a damaging forward and go back and sure up the back half.”

Starcevich also highlighted the work of Hodder who was becoming the complete small forward and looking to impact in equal measures offensively and defensively.

“She’s determined,” Starcevich said. “Her first year she burst onto the scene and no-one knew much about her and she was scoring and doing most things. Last year we thought she was just as good but it was probably more around defensive pressure and setting other people up.

“As much as we talk to her about not judging herself around outcomes, it’s as much about keeping other people involved and how much pressure you put on. They always think they need to score, and she seems very determined to do everything this year. Provide the pressure, be a little bit of a lead up presence, and also get busy at ground level and score.”

The Brisbane Lions midfield of Emily Bates, Catherine Svarc, Isabel Dawes and Ally Anderson also ticked over nicely despite Starcevich admitting they were a “bit clunky” but more so due to the Round 1 rust that happens every year. The Lions dominated the contested possessions (122-91) and uncontested possessions (116-59), laid a massive 13 more tackles inside 50 (16-3) and dominated the inside-50 count (45-17) despite breaking even in the clearances (26-24).

“It takes a while for match practice to get under the belt and you see the fruition of that,” Starcevich said. “They weren’t too bad, we won our fair share of the clearances. I thought Tahlia Hickie was super in the ruck and ground level we were pretty good as well. Batesy and Cathy and Belle and Ally was probably very, very strong. That was good, we were able to get it away from congestion and give our forwards a bit of a look at it.”

Brisbane will set its sights on GWS GIANTS who the Lions face at Manuka Oval next Sunday, September 4 from 3:10pm before a Q-Clash in Round 3.

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