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.

Macca confused by Government's gas export regulations

Ian Macfarlane.

Macfarlane believes regulations to restrict exports will not work

Man avoids jail for trying to buy $5000 in ice

Former CSG worker Korey Cameron Hurle, who avoided prison after trying to buy about $5000 worth of methamphetamine.

Prosecutors said the amount he tried to buy was worth about $5000

Cop convicted over woman's highway death loses appeal

Roma police constable Fabio Armando Mazza (left) has lost an appeal after being found guilty of dangerous driving causing death and injury.

Improbable to suggest motorcyclist to blame for crash, judge says

Local Partners

Toowoomba South, council elections 'poorly-handled'

THE Toowoomba South by-election and 2016 local government elections were poorly handled and mismanaged by the state’s electoral body, according to a report.

Bundy mum blogging to get families offline

FAMILY FUN: Deonie Crowther is holding family craft sessions at the Windmill Cafe in Bargara.

Crafty projects a hit with parents and children

Country music stars coming to Ipswich

Ipswich will get it's country on when The Country Superstars Tribute Show hits town on Friday, June 30 at Brothers Leagues Club.

A UNIQUE tribute show will bring a bit of country into the city.

Shoes make difference to kids in Zambia

MANY SHOES: Toowoomba Grammar School's Adrian Irwin and Fairholme College's Libby Stumer with shoes collected for children in Zambia.

Students are making a difference, creating a new project

The top 10 TV shows that need to end

WHEN Fonzie donned water skies to leap a man-eater in a pond, Happy Days’ best days were gone. It’s now time to cull some of our favourites.

Prince Harry reveals he wanted to leave the royal family

Prince Harry was the center of attention during his trip to Sydney.

Prince Harry has revealed he “wanted out” as a Royal

Why streaming movies will cost more from July 1

Australians can expect to pay more for streaming services such as Netflix when the new taxes kick in.

The new taxes from July 1 won’t hurt the MPs’ big pay rise

What's on the small screen this week

Ryan Shelton in a scene from True Story with Hamish & Andy.

HAMISH and Andy hear another funny story and Cleverman returns.

Digging down to find Clare

Australian actress and singer Clare Bowen, who got her big break on the US TV series Nashville, is touring Australia with her solo album.

After five years on Nashville it’s time to tell her own stories.

TV REVIEW: Offspring season 7 is... fine

Alexander England and Asher Keddie in a scene from season seven of Offspring.

New Offspring won’t be remembered as the best season.

Gateway to $3 billion, 4800 home new Coast city opens

The start of Peter Crosby Way at Sippy Downs, the northern access into the Harmony master-planned community at Palmview.

Palmview's $3b master-planned community of Harmony

Millionaire Nathan Birch to offload $55M in property

Nathan Birch wants to focus more on developing properties.

Sydney property investor has announced he is selling up

Fame factor boosts property prices in Byron

The stunning Clarke's Beach in Byron Bay.

House prices surge by an incredible 39.5% in star-studded area

Grass is greener for Warwick real estate

Warwick's rural charm and affordable property prices are enticing buyers from Brisbane.

Quality houses for half the price of Brisbane attracting interest

Builders relish Coast's growing construction rates

The Coast's average house price has risen from by more than $10,000 in the past three years to $507,100.

House numbers and values are rising on the Coast

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!