Fagan's Lions wary of under-strength Essendon

·2-min read

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan believes the Lions have learned some harsh lessons in games they have been expected to win in recent times.

The Lions (6-2) will start as overwhelming favourites to record a sixth-straight win when they host a depleted Essendon at the Gabba on Saturday night.

The Bombers will be without star midfielder Darcy Parish, as well as defenders Jordan Ridley, Jayden Laverde, Zach Reid and Jake Kelly.

Boasting arguably the best forward line in the AFL, the high-scoring Lions could rack up big numbers against the weakened Essendon back-half.

But Fagan is preparing for Essendon to still throw their best punch at the home side.

The Bombers have lost their last three matches, but were in winning positions in two of those games against Collingwood and Port Adelaide.

In the corresponding game last year, Brisbane were the under-strength team after being hit up by COVID-19 as the Bombers recorded a rare win at the Gabba.

"They've (Essendon) won four games but have pushed some other teams well and truly entrenched in the top part of the ladder," Fagan told reporters on Friday.

"They beat us up here last year so we're aware of that.

"We know we can't relax for one moment in this competition, because if you do, you get beaten. We've learnt that lesson plenty of times.

"We know the next few weeks the competition will start to sort itself out.

"We understand there's an opportunity for us to keep putting ourselves up somewhere near the top so that's a really strong motivation for the group.

"I'll expect we'll turn up in the right frame of mind."

Former captain Dayne Zorko is the Lions' only inclusion, forcing his way back into the 22 after missing just one week with a hamstring issue.

Even Fagan admitted he was surprised by how quickly the 34-year-old recovered.

"In my own mind I didn't think he'd be playing this week but he's out there at training on Tuesday running around at 100 miles an hour," he said.

"We definitely talked about it (giving Zorko another week off) but we couldn't make any other decision but to pick him based on training."

Since stunning Melbourne in Gather Round, the Bombers have lost three-straight matches in a challenging run for Brad Scott's team.

They almost upset Port last Sunday, but lost Ridley (concussion) during the match to add to their bulging injury list.