Lion still hungry for the contest as 250th game looms

JONATHAN Brown knows he won’t play in another AFL premiership.

But the three-time Brisbane Lions premiership forward wants to help the club’s next generation set the foundation for future flag tilts.

The South Warrnambool export will play his 250th game against Richmond at the Gabba tomorrow night, his focus firmly on helping the winless Lions arrest their form slump.

Speaking before his milestone game, Brown said the decision to put his injury-ravaged body through a 15th AFL season was the right one.

“Number one, it always comes down to whether you enjoy your footy and I still enjoy my footy,” he said. 

“Obviously it becomes frustrating at times. You don’t move around the field like you did when you were in the prime of your career, but I still love competing against the opposition and I love trying to pass on my knowledge and help out the younger fellas.

“But also I want to help out the club in a development phase.

“I am glad that I have kept going that’s for sure and I am looking forward to the next two or three-month period when we show our real character when we’ve got our backs against the wall.”

Brisbane, which has added a specially-designed guernsey to honour its former captain to its shop, sits at the foot of the table following a 113-point round four capitulation to Port Adelaide.

Brown, like his team, started the season admirably but has endured a tough patch, kicking seven goals from four games.

But the 2007 Coleman  medallist said he was quietly confident his form would turn around.

“You are always reliant on how much service and how much ball you get inside 50 but of course the easy excuse is to say he’s old and buggered and gone,” he said.

“But I’ll tell you what, there are plenty of other key forwards in comp that I’ve seen that have been struggling to kick goals in the first four weeks of the season as well.

“I don’t see the old ‘too old’ headlines when they’re 25 years old and not kicking goals. 

“It’s an easy excuse but it’ll never worry me. I can’t find any white flags in my back pocket yet so you definitely won’t see them.

“I expect to contribute and I expect to earn my spot.

“I need to contribute on the scoreboard that’s for sure but I need to contribute (from) a leadership point as well.

“I am trying to live in the moment and enjoy my footy.”

Brown, whose father Brian played 50 games for Fitzroy and two for Essendon, has missed 80 out of a possible 330 games through injury and suspension since his 2000 debut.

He said reaching 250 games, particularly given the increasing demands, was an achievement he cherished. 

“It is definitely a hell of a lot more important for the club to get a win this week than it is for me to have an enjoyable experience in my 250. Hopefully that’s just a nice byproduct at the end of the night,” Brown said.

“If one of the boys can deliver a goal after the siren like Ash (McGrath) did last year in his 200th that would be nice.”

The 2001, 2002 and 2003 premiership player said the competition had come on in leaps and bounds since he was drafted from South in 1999.

“The last five years it’s arguably evolved more in that five-year period than any other five-year period in the 150-year history of the game,” Brown said.

“We are full-time professional athletes so the game has got more powerful, faster, unlimited rotations. 

“I am quite amazed when you see guys like Brent Harvey and Dustin Fletcher still being able to run around and getting close to 400 games.

“I am not sure how many guys are going to get close to 300 games, that’s for sure.”

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