Lions to rely on draft for midfielder


The Lions will explore the delisted free agency period to find potential mature-bodied midfielders to help ease the burden that is expected to be placed on their younger ­players by the departure of ­former skipper Tom Rockliff to Port Adelaide.

They are also working behind the scenes on another potential trade that can add to their midfield, but they have ruled out throwing high-end draft picks at clubs to try to ­recruit an A-grader.

The addition of Hawks great Luke Hodge and the anticipated acquisition of Crow Charlie Cameron will increase the average age of the youngest list in the competition, even with the departure of Rockliff.

The Lions’ future hinges on the development of young key- position players Eric Hipwood, Harris Andrews and Dan McStay and the club’s strategy is to create a midfield that can develop alongside them.

Hugh McCluggage was a top draft pick. Picture: Getty Inages

Hugh McCluggage was a top draft pick. Picture: Getty InagesSource:Getty Images

Last year they added Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Berry as well as skilful halfbacks Cedric Cox and Alex Witherden, all within the top 24 picks.

Rhys Mathieson came into the club the year before.

They will enter this year’s draft with picks No.1 and 12, as well as 18 as a compensation pick for Rockliff, and pick 19.

One of those picks could yet be used to lure Cameron.

Football manager David Noble said the Lions were in discussions with a player, but would not reveal who, and said there was no godfather offer to a star in the pipeline.

He said if the negotiations fell over they would not start bidding on any player at the trade table.

“We have got to be true to our vision to build an elite midfield and to do that we will go back to the draft,’’ he said.

“We need to be patient, we will look to add some mature players to our list but if we can’t get the ones we have identified we won’t panic.’’

The Lions are still hopeful of securing Charlie Cameron.

The Lions are still hopeful of securing Charlie Cameron.Source:Getty Images

The Lions made Rockliff’s move to Port Adelaide official when they chose not to match the Power’s offer for the restricted free agent.

Rockliff, who played 154 games over nine seasons for the Lions, said the time was right for change.

“I met with Ken Hinkley, Travis Boak and some other key people at Port Adelaide after the season and was really impressed,” Rockliff said.

“I think the club can be great for me as a footballer and I think I have a lot to offer the club too. Port Adelaide is coming off a strong season and everyone is optimistic about what we can achieve in 2018.”



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