AFL: Brisbane vice-captain Josh Dunkley calls on Cam Rayner to produce first-class midfield performances regularly


Lions star Josh Dunkley has challenged Cam Rayner to deliver consistently strong midfield performances to cement his spot in Brisbane’s engine room.

The versatile Rayner was outstanding last Thursday night in Brisbane’s 22-point win over Melbourne with a midfield effort that included 25 disposals, nine of which were clearances.

Rayner’s MCG display raised his hopes of being shifted more often from the forwards to Brisbane’s star-studded midfield.

However, Dunkley said Rayner had to produce similar form regularly during his midfield spells for the positional switch to occur more regularly.

“It’s pretty special what he can do as a player,” the Lions vice-captain said ahead of Brisbane’s battle with the undefeated Geelong at the Gabba on Saturday night.

“Consistency and all that comes into it now for him, and if he wants to get more midfield time, we want to see those behaviours more often.

“It’s great that he could start like that (against Melbourne) and show us what he’s capable of.

“A game like (that) will go a long way to helping him with his confidence levels, and knowing that he can do it against the best is going to be real important.

“When he gets his chance (in the midfield), I’m sure he will take it like he did (against Melbourne) and we look forward to getting him in there more.”

Former Bulldog Dunkley was also a standout against the Demons with a display that included 30 possessions.

“I feel good. The start to my year’s been pretty good, albeit losing a couple of games,” he said.

“I just try to go out there every week and play my role. Sometimes you might get more of the ball or kick goals or whatever it might be and get a bit of a lick of the ice cream, but other weeks you just do your job, so nothing really changes from my mindset.”

The Lions are chasing a third successive win this weekend after starting their season with three straight losses.

“We’ve known that we haven’t been too far off it and it was nice to get our season going … and put together a pretty good performance,” Dunkley said.

The Lions will need to maintain their form to have any chance of beating the in-form Cats and winning at the Gabba for the first time this season.

“I feel like they’ve rediscovered their form of the premiership year (2022),” Dunkley said.

“They’ve just got so many good players across the board that can stand up in different moments.

“Every week their players are just consistently playing well. It’s going to be really important game for us, and things that will have to go in process to beat them.”

The Lions will have Charlie Cameron available for the clash after his one-game ban for a dumping tackle on Melbourne’s Jake Lever was reduced to a fine by the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night.

While the Lions weren’t successful in getting the impact of Cameron’s tackle downgraded from medium to low, his exemplary record led to the sanction being lessened from a one-match suspension to a fine.

“It’s hard these days with free kicks. It may not be in this instance but (there are) other instances where players are trying to manipulate that to get free kicks, which is hard when you’re looking at instances like this,” Dunkley said.

Lions co-captain Lachie Neale trained lightly at Springfield on Tuesday as he continues to manage an ankle injury.

Half-back Connor McKenna is available for selection after recovering from a hamstring injury, however forward Zac Bailey is facing at least four weeks on the sidelines after scans revealed he is suffering from a high ankle sprain.

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