Former defender Daniel McStay feeding the Lions
PAST experience of shadowing opposition forwards such as Jack Riewoldt is proving invaluable to Dan McStay's role as a beacon in the Lions' attack.
While not getting the headlines of a Charlie Cameron, the 24-year-old has become a vital member of arguably the AFL's most dynamic forward line.
The strong-leading, pack-marking McStay is the spearhead others feed off.
Drafted in 2013, McStay kicked three goals in his fifth game in 2014, but spent much of his first season under Chris Fagan in 2017 down back.
"It's a great part of your development ... learning what a good key forward does, the way they move," McStay said.
"They are constantly moving. The hardest players to play on are the Jack Riewoldts, who are always in the game no matter where the ball is.
"They are always watching the ball, watching you, trying to outsmart you."
McStay is averaging four marks and a goal a game in 2019 and has proved pivotal to Brisbane's surge to third spot on the ladder ahead of tonight's clash at home against North Melbourne.
He does a lot of the heavy lifting and is ranked sixth in the league in contested marks.
"The coaches keep it pretty simple ... compete in the air, just bring the ball to ground," McStay said. "I might not get the most touches or get the most goals, but the coaches are happy with my performances. We're still scoring close to 100 points every week.
"Over the journey I've been inconsistent. I'd have a good week, have a couple of bad ones.
"I really feel keeping it simple has allowed me to improve and be more consistent. It's been really pleasing."
The Lions also sit third for goalscoring, behind Geelong and GWS, with Cameron (33), Eric Hipwood (26), Lincoln McCarthy (19) and McStay (17) leading the way.
"We don't rely on one forward," McStay said. "We're able to score in many ways. You shut Charlie down, someone else can pop up and kick multiple goals.
"Even in the wet on the weekend (against Port Adelaide), you'd think that would be a low-scoring game (but) we put on 97 points. That was huge for us."
The Lions have an 11-5 win-loss record.
"If you told me we were going to be third on the ladder after 17 rounds at the start of the year I would've been very surprised," McStay said. "I knew we on the right track. I just think we've improved faster than a lot of people thought.
"We've been building this list since probably my draft. Recruiting and the trading that we've done, it's been amazing."
McStay was drafted alongside Darcy Gardiner, who went on to become a key pillar in defence.
"It's been a long journey, been pretty tough," McStay said, "but the club put a lot of faith in us in the early days. We're more than happy to repay the faith now."
The Lions will look to solidify their position in the top four when they host the in-form Roos.
Rejoined by Hipwood, McStay will be pitted against either Robbie Tarrant or Scott Thompson.
"They are both really strong," McStay said.
"If I can just get on the lead and nullify their impact in the air, they are vulnerable at ground level."