Brandon Starcevich’s decision to persevere as a defender has proven a wise choice as he inches closer to an AFL premiership with the Brisbane Lions.
Desperate to break into the Lions’ best 22, Starcevich was contemplating reinventing himself as a wingman at the start of the year.
But on the advice of Brisbane backline coach, the West Australian product backed himself to win a spot in the Lions’ talented defensive unit and it has paid dividends.
Having made just five senior appearances in his first two seasons at the club, Starcevich has played in 17 of Brisbane’s 18 games this year, earned a Rising Star nomination, and is one win away from a grand final.
“There was a fair bit of competition for spots in the halfback spot … I didn’t really know where I sat, to be honest,” the 21-year-old said.
“I was tossing up whether to play on the wing, whether that was my best spot in the team or in trying to get a spot.”
But Davis had other ideas.
“He said ‘no we like you at half-back’. I got a game and then … been there for the whole year,” Starcevich said.
“Coming into the year, belief and confidence was a big thing. To have the confidence from your coaching staff and the trust from your teammates playing every week … it’s been a big part of my role.”
As Starcevich’s confidence has grown throughout the year, he has also taken it upon himself to become an attacking threat.
“(It’s about) backing myself in, my pace and my power … I didn’t really do that much at the start of the year,” he said.
“I was more focused on defending, but then realising I could bring that to the table as well when we got the ball, and go the other way has been pretty big.”
And it’s been with the help of fellow WA boy Daniel Rich, whose ability to start attacks from the half-back line is a key ingredient in Brisbane’s success.
“Working on that offensive game, I usually sit down and watch his tape,” Starcevich said.
“I pick apart how he gets involved in the offence and what he does. He’s been pretty big.
“It’s looking for opportunities. He’s always there lurking around, getting in good spots for handball receives.
“He’s got a big leg and I have the same skills set as him. I’ve got a pretty powerful leg so I try to get in the same spots as him.”
Starcevich said it wasn’t only his belief that had grown in the season, with the Lions confident they can beat anyone having finally a run of 15 successive losses to Richmond last Friday night.
“Having beaten every team in the competition, we know that our best is the best,” he said.
“The one that we were really looking forward to ticking off was Richmond. To get them on the weekend, it was pretty big for us as a football club.”