AFLW draft prospect McKenzie Dowrick.
AFLW draft prospect McKenzie Dowrick.

Lions out to replace lost star power

THE Brisbane Lions are confident they will be able to replace the star power they have lost in recent months in the AFLW draft.

The two-time grand finalists are looking to build on their recent success, but will have to do it without Kaitlyn Ashmore, Tahlia Randall, Brittany Gibson, Jamie Stanton (North Melbourne), Nicole Hildebrand (Collingwood) and Sophie Conway (ACL injury).

It's another big turnover for the club, but coach Craig Starcevich has his sights set on replacing that experience in Tuesday's draft in Melbourne.

It is understood homegrown talent Lauren Bella and promising Western Australian McKenzie Dowrick are two of the top targets for the Lions, who have six picks plus two compensation selections.

Starcevich said he was looking for variety within his squad, but was also confident the selected players would fill the shoes of those who had moved on.

"We did lose four players to expansion and another went back to Melbourne," Starcevich said of the Lions' player movements.

"They were all a little bit unique with the style of footy they brought to the table so we'll look to replace them.

"We've also had an ongoing thing to reward Queenslanders because we believe the QAFLW produce pretty good talent … We're looking for a bit of a variety.

Lauren Bella is among those the Lions could target in Tuesday's draft. (Picture: Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)
Lauren Bella is among those the Lions could target in Tuesday's draft. (Picture: Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

"I'm quietly confident. Even from year one to year two we turned over nine or 10 players as well and we're doing it again this year.

"This year, no one knew the capability of Arianna Clarke and Sophie Conway but they held up tremendously well in their first seasons.

"There will be someone (next year) who will bob up and be an unknown quantity."

The Lions will head into the draft with picks 9, 22, 33, 45, 56 and 61.

Dowrick or Bella are expected to be Brisbane's first pick, after 18-year-old Dowrick nominated for a move to Queensland.

While Starcevich wants to reward homegrown talent, he said it was a great endorsement that an up-and-comer like Dowrick had nominated the Lions as her first-choice club.

"The competition has only been going three years but it's the first time we've had top-end talent from another state choose Queensland as the place they'd like to be drafted to," he said.

"That's a terrific endorsement for the Lions."