PACKING A PUNCH: Harris Andrews is enjoying a career-best season for the Lions.
PACKING A PUNCH: Harris Andrews is enjoying a career-best season for the Lions. Brett Hemmings/AFL Media

'General' a major help for young Lions leader

APART from the 15cm difference in height, there's a lot of similarities between Luke Hodge and Harris Andrews.

Both natural-born leaders. Both ultimate team players.

In fact, still only 21, Andrews could have been accused of taking on a team-first approach too often.

"Last year at times I found myself worrying too much about other guys rather than just my own performance," a candid Andrews explained.

Enter Hodge, the three-time premiership-winning captain at the Hawks and newly appointed mentor to the young Lions.

"Hodgy did sit me down when he first came up here. We just talked about my ability to be able to perform my role and then help other guys.

"That's something I've felt like over the last month I've been able to do."

From the Aspley Hornets, the Queenslander has been talked about as a future Lions captain since he first arrived through the national draft in 2014.

The fullback has an "investment in the team" like few others. But though he has broad shoulders on his 201cm frame, he was perhaps carrying a little too much of the load, especially in the Lions' ultra-inexperienced defensive unit.

"To try and fast-track young guys like Alex Witherden, I feel like I have to do that sort of thing," he said.

"I obviously want to play in a successful football team.

"The quicker we, as a young side, can improve, the quicker we will be able to have that success."


Brisbane leaders Dayne Zorko, Dayne Beams and Harris Andrews.
Brisbane leaders Dayne Zorko, Dayne Beams and Harris Andrews.

Some of that burden has been lifted since the arrival of 'The General' Hodge, and Andrews has thrived - from a playing and leadership sense.

"Getting Hodgy to the club was a huge benefit to me," said Andrews, who is personally enjoying a career-best season, both stats and confidence hitting new heights.

"He's probably one of the greatest leaders who's ever played the game. I've been picking his brain for the last six or seven months since he's been at the club.

"For Luke, it's really important things get done. You can see that out on game day, with his desperate acts ... the way he gives directions to teammates.

"I really like that about him ... just get it done and we can talk about it afterwards."

From being made a deputy vice-captain in just this third season, Andrews has been appointed vice-captain after Dayne Beams stepped down as skipper while he deals with the loss of his father to cancer.

The "bubbly" Dayne Zorko has taken on the top job.

"It's pretty unfortunate circumstances," Andrews said.

"He (Beams) certainly does a good job of putting on a brave face when he's around the boys.

"For him to get back to enjoying football, standing down was probably the best option.

"He's obviously a very important figure at our football club. He's got the support of all the boys, and everyone at the Lions."


Peter Wright (left) couldn’t inspire the Suns to a win in the NEAFL.
Harris Andrews battles with Peter Wright during the QClash last month.

While he's moved up a rank in official leadership roles, "nothing is going to change" for Andrews when the Lions host the Sydney Swans today.

His priority will be attempting to keep the opposition attack at bay, in this case one spearheaded by the great Lance Franklin.

The Lions' work down back played no small part in the side, shocking the Hawks last Sunday for their first win of 2018.

Either he or rookie sensation Matt Eagles will get the direct job on 'Buddy', with plenty of support.

"His ability to kick goals from pretty much anywhere inside 70m is pretty phenomenal," Andrews says of Franklin.

"The way we play our defence, we try not to isolate too much. We'll work as a team to nullify his influence."

Andrews admits he has been surprised by the rise of one-time footy reality show star Eagles, who is impressing as a key defender.

"I can't believe it to be honest," he said. "I still remember the first day that he came to the club. We were doing some pretty basic skill drills and he was falling a bit behind.

"For him, he might not have felt like he belonged there.

"But he's worked his backside off and he's earned the respect of the playing group.

"I'm really looking forward to continually working with Eagsy."

Though seven years his junior, it hasn't stopped Andrews taking Eagles under his wing - that's Andrews, the consummate team man. A leader beyond his years.

"Even if I wasn't in the leadership group I'd still feel I needed to contribute in that way," he said.