Battling Brisbane can’t afford to use Jonathan Brown’s Gabba farewell as motivation on starting their uncertain new AFL era on Saturday night.
That’s according to vice-captain Tom Rockliff who says the Lions must quickly, and clinically, move forward without the veteran power forward against North Melbourne.
Brown, who announced an end to his glittering 256-game career this week, will be feted by the Gabba faithful during a lap of honour at halftime.
Rockliff says 17th-placed Brisbane will do their best to make it a successful farewell for the triple-premiership winner but can’t look back, or be overcome with emotion.
“It’s about moving on,” he told AAP. “Unfortunately, that’s the harsh reality.
“Browny will obviously still come into the club but we have to move past that and start to build our own new era.”
Brown spoke to the playing group when he announced his retirement on Monday but there are no plans for a pre-match address.
Following an 83-point last-start loss to Fremantle, which contained a record-low 17 inside-50s, Rockliff said Brisbane must focus on fixing their problems.
“You would love to send him off in a good way but, where we are as a group at the moment, it’s probably more about the development and playing a the game style our way,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s added motivation. It’s more about getting the way we want to play right and finish the last 10 weeks of the year really strong.”
Dan Merrett will shoulder most of the load up forward without Brown, while there’s also a bigger onus on second-year player Michael Close stepping up.
But Rockliff says there won’t be too much pressure on Close.
“We have to be patient with big Closey,” the midfielder said. “Browny was one of the rare ones that could come in and play centre-half forward straight away.”
The inconsistent Kangaroos – 87-point winners over Brisbane just six weeks ago – haven’t won at the Gabba since 2005 but have shown that interstate trips are no concern this year, upsetting Sydney, Fremantle and West Coast.
Sitting seventh following three wins from their past four starts, midfielder Jack Ziebell said North were focused on a big next four weeks to set a solid platform for a finals finish.
“It’s a big month for us,” Ziebell told Triple M radio. “We’re looking to string a few wins together.
“It’s Browny’s farewell so we expect them to be red-hot and we have to match it.”