Lions turn to teenage speedster
A need for speed has driven Zac Bailey into the Brisbane Lions' defence.
And the fleet-footed teenager is loving it.
While the Lions have an abundance of slower quarterback types - including one of the greatest, Luke Hodge, his protege Alex Witherden and the reborn Daniel Rich - Bailey is providing blistering line-breaking capabilities.
His pace has been on show in the Lions' back-to-back wins to start the season, following a debut season spent finding his feet at the top level.
"Last year when I was playing forward I couldn't really use that," the 19-year-old said.
"The move back has been pretty good for me. I've been able to run and carry more."
Bailey is ranked third at the Lions this season for rebounds from the defensive 50m (9) and racked up a career-best 499m gained for his side in the come-from-behind win over North Melbourne last week.
"It was a bit of a shock to the system the first couple of games," he said of playing in the backline.
"Midfield you can kind of go where you want. Down back it's pretty structured. For me, that was something I had to learn.
"Communication in that backline is crucial."
As expected, four-time premiership Hawk Hodge provides plenty of direction.
"It does help when you've got Hodgey and even Witho down there, sorting you out structurally," Bailey said.
"I haven't got a blasting yet (from Hodge), but there's been a few firm words ... on a fair few occasions for all different things."
After spending three years at boarding school in Adelaide before being drafted in 2017, Darwin product Bailey has settled in well in Queensland and is living with teammates Daniel McStay and Tom Joyce.
"It held me in good stead coming to Brisbane by myself," said Bailey, who made his debut in the 93-point loss to then reigning premier Richmond in round four last year.
"A game I want to forget," he said.
The Lions have come a long way in 12 months, sitting second ahead of a round-three clash against fellow unbeaten side Port Adelaide at the Gabba tonight.
"It's only round two - we can't get too ahead of ourselves," Bailey said.
"The boys are pretty calm about it. Obviously it's good to be 2-0 up but the boys are pretty collected, just focusing on Port Adelaide this weekend."
Port have won the sides' past five clashes, including two in Brisbane by 83 and 94 points in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Bailey said Brisbane needed to again "bring our best game".
The Lions have an unchanged line-up for the clash, with livewire forwards Lincoln McCarthy (rib) and Cameron Rayner (thigh) both proving their fitness after suffering minor injuries in last weekend's win over the Kangaroos.