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.

Australia's biggest wind farm coming to Darling Downs

WIND POWER: Australia's largest wind farm is set to be built in the Darling Downs north of Dalby by AGL and GE.

Wind farm will produce enough energy to power 260,000 average homes

Sex tape sequel: Man caught on camera slapped with penalty

SEX SLAVES: Human trafficking will be discussed at the upcoming Splendour Immerse Women Conference at Gayndah's ACC Church. Photo Brandon Livesay / Central & North Burnett Times

Offender exposed himself on pool table in beer garden

Your snaps could help us understand artesian springs

Travel snaps of Great Artesian Basin springs could help the government document their unique ecosystems.

Holiday snaps could help government protect springs

Local Partners

Severe fire danger warning for Darling Downs regions

AUTHORITIES are warning of severe fire conditions across the Darling Downs, Granite Belt and Maranoa regions due to recent weather patterns.

Jemma's bewitching voice

STAGE PRESENCE: Suzie Mathers and Jemma Rix in a scene from Wicked The Musical.

Wicked musical theatre star Jemma Rix has released her debut album.

This laughter yoga video will have you in fits of giggles

BEST MEDICINE: Karen Flannery is spreading happiness through laughter throughout Hervey Bay.

New members needed for a laughing good time

Dancers show off skills at Toowoomba Eisteddfod

Milla Rowbotham and Rebecca Gill from All Star Dance Academy .Toowoomba Eisteddfod, Empire Theatre. August 2017

Poems and dances dominated the 72nd City of Toowoomba Eisteddfod

Radio host Matt Okine leaps to small screen

Funnyman talks about the inspiration behind his show, The Other Guy.

Hollywood’s new highest paid actress

Jennifer Lawrence had to settle for third this year behind Emma Stone and Jennifer Aniston.

CAN you guess who has dethroned Jennifer Lawrence?

Movie trailer dubbed too racy for TV

Alicia Vikander stars in Tulip Fever.

THE trailer for Tulip Fever is so saucy some networks have banned it

Liz Hurley, 52, has never looked better

She’s definitely not shy to pose in a bikini.

Life in your 50s has never looked as good as it does on Liz Hurley.

Big Bang Theory star spills details about Season 11

Mayim Bialik plays Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory.

MAYIM Bialik has shared some details about what fans can expect.

The Bachelor Australia: Awful joke leaves Matty stunned

Sharlene’s mouth hangs agape after her car crash breakup.

I’m actually one of the bachelorettes — I’m not the external caterer

Samsung set for bigger, beach friendly Note 8

Samsung will be going bigger than ever to launch its Note 8 after this year's launch of the S8.

Water, dust, now sand-resistant?

EXPLAINED: What the 'Costco effect' means for Ipswich

PRICE WARS: A Costco store similar to this one in Canberra, is planned for Ipswich.

Exclusive 'cult' about to change how families do grocery shopping

4800 homes to be built in massive new Coast estate

Masterplanned community full steam ahead - it's not Caloundra South

Open for inspection homes August 17 - 23

Check out this weekend's homes open for inspection.

Airbnb, Stayz and co tipped to squeeze Coast housing market

HOLIDAY BOOM: Airbnb letting is putting a further squeeze on long-term rentals.

Councils exploring options to manage the industry

How we got a rental straight away on the Coast

Rita and David Allara, moved down from Townsville, paid three months up front rent to secure the place at flash new unit block in Kings Beach.

Genius move helps secure rental property

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!