Sport

Love of the Lions runs in rising star's blood

Ben Keays of the Brisbane Lions gets a handball away against the Port Adelaide Power.
Ben Keays of the Brisbane Lions gets a handball away against the Port Adelaide Power. Bradley Kanaris

AS A lifelong fan and now player, Ben Keays is desperate to see Lions home games back as the showpiece event in Brisbane.

"I know what's it like up here when the Lions are playing well," the Queenslander told News Regional Media ahead of today's home clash with ladder-leader Adelaide.

"I still remember going to the Gabba in 2009 when we were in finals - it was just amazing.

"I would love for us to get back to that so everyone else can experience it."

In front of 32,000 fans, the Lions won that elimination final against Carlton, with Daniel Bradshaw kicking five goals and Jonathan Brown four.

They haven't contested a finals series since, with average attendances at the Gabba dropping to 17,000 last year after hitting 29,000 circa 2009-10 and peaking at 33,500 in 2004.

The 20-year-old midfielder is more "emotionally invested" in his club than most second-year players.

It's in his blood.

His great-grandfather, Fred Keays, played with the Lions, of the Fitzroy variety, in the 1920s, with support of the club passed down from generation to generation.

Ironically, the Keays family moved from Melbourne to Brisbane at the height of the Lions domination of the AFL in 2002.

Eventually coming through its academy, he was snapped up by the club in the 2015 draft, before playing 16 games in his debut season - but enjoying only two wins.

"There is no denying that was pretty hard at times," Keays said.

Pressure built on coach Justin Leppitsch - one of the players he had once idolised - until he was ultimately axed.

"I got along with him fine ... but there was a bit of an elephant in the room I guess," Keays said.

"We just weren't playing well, getting smashed too much. It was a shame.

"I felt really sorry for him at times."

Keays, however, says "everyone is refreshed" under new coach Chris Fagan.

And he is certainly hoping the success Fagan enjoyed as an assistant coach and football boss at Hawthorn - four premierships - will rub off on the Lions.

"I didn't really know much about him at all, but then you heard the credentials ... the period he was at Hawthorn," Keays said.

Keays admits he was "nervous" during his first meeting with the new coach last November.

 

Ben Keays of the Lions is congratulated by Dayne Zorko after kicking a goal.
Ben Keays of the Lions is congratulated by Dayne Zorko after kicking a goal. Quinn Rooney

"It was pretty intimidating," he said.

"But I was just honest with him. He was honest with me. Straight away I just knew he was going to be perfect for the footy club."

After getting over those initial nerves, the former Queensland under-18s captain showed why he is already considered a leader among the younger Lions.

"We're a young group," he would tell the coach. "We just want a system we can play to consistently, we don't want to have to chop and change all the time."

Keays was dropped after the first round, but forced his way back into the senior line-up for round five and has been making the most of his opportunity.

He kicked two goals against the Bulldogs, and collected a career-high 24 touches against Port Adelaide.

"I think work-rate is one of my strengths, contest to contest," he said.

"Once I get the skills down pat I'm sure I'll be able to have a pretty big impact."

Who knows, one day he might just be leading the Lions in a home final.

News Corp Australia

Topics:  ben keays brisbane lions


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

How to GIVIT and live it, too

Creek crossings along the way made for challenging driving.photo Vicki Wood

FUNDRAISING with a difference across western Queensland.

Residents urged to dispose of hot ashes safely this winter

WARMING UP: With more residents lighting their wood fires or fire pits this time of year to escape the chilly weather please take care and dispose of hot ashes responsibly and safely.

Here are some tips for disposing of hot ashes safely

Tree planting works: Matthew Tce/James St upgrade

TREE PLANTING: Tree planting coincides with other works scheduled for the Matthew Terrace and James Street road upgrade

Caboolture will notice a greener link to the CBD in coming weeks

Local Partners

BREAKING: Burpengary properties raided for cockfighting

RSCPA Queensland inspectors yesterday executed 11 warrants, 2 in Burpengary in relation to cockfighting.

Working class? Man, Gympie's got the show for you

Jimmy Barnes

Aussie rock icons coming to Gympie for 150th celebrations.

Tables turn as rescue crew takes on gruelling mountain

EPIC CHALLENGE: Hundreds of runners will tackle the 4.2km run from the heart of Pomona to the top of Mt Cooroora and back on Sunday.

They are usually the people coming to the rescue of adventurers

VIDEO: Girls can feel safe at Splendour

Punters at Splendour in the Grass 2016 at Byron Bay.

High visibility police will be among the crowd at all times

WATCH: The 'Disco Boob' trend at Splendour in the Grass

VIDEO: REVELLERS lined up in droves at the Glitoris body art tent as the ‘Disco Boobs’ glitter trend took off on day two of the 2017 Splendour in the Grass music...

Ben cooks his way into the MasterChef grand final

MasterChef Australia's 2017f finalists Ben Ungermann and Diana Chan will battle it out in Monday's grand final.

IPSWICH cook draws on his Dutch heritage to impress the judges.

EXCLUSIVE: Behind the scenes with police at Splendour

COPS: Police at Splendour.

VIDEO: Police confirm patrons caught with drugs inside their body.

Twitter explodes over Stranger Things season two

Will gets transported back to the Upside Down.

Finally, a proper look at Stranger Things season 2

Warner Bros. confirms a number of confusing sequels

Wonder Woman is getting a sequel.

There's some very good news for Wonder Woman fans

New Thor: Ragnarok trailer is everything you could want

Thor and his brother Loki seem to be on the same side.

Another Thor trailer has landed, and it's hot

Check out the 22 women who'll chase the next Bachelor

Meet the women vying for Matty J's heart on The Bachelor.

The 22 women of the Bachelor have been revealed

Financial scandal destroys alternative community

Families who gave thousands to be a part of an alternative community at Mt Burrell, west of Murwillumbah, are now trying to recover their investment. Picture: Jamie Hanson

Dream Utopia turns into a nightmare

Mum buys $900,000 apartment for her 8-year-old son

Tania Katsanis beat another couple of homeowners to secure the winning bid.

The apartment was a 'bargain' as the property market bottoms out

Townhouses planned for Nicklin Way site

CBRE's Brendan Robins and Rem Rafter on site at Wurtulla.

Prime 1.5ha Sunshine Coast property set for town homes development

Owner tells of ghostly goings on at old Mackay pub

GHOST STORIES: Several people have died at the Mirani Hotel

Owner says pub is 'definitely haunted'

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!