Buoyant Lions optimistic
THEY'VE lost their marquee man, but the Cairns City Lions can cope with Daniel Lewis's departure thanks to the boost he gave the club last season, returning coach Jason Roe said.
Twelve months ago the club was in tatters and Roe admitted it was an all-or-nothing gamble to lure Lewis from Perth last season.
By season's end, they had snapped a 32-match losing streak and the crowds were flocking to Holloways Beach to see the dreadlocked Lewis leap above the pack for another big mark.
Lewis won't return this season, pinched to play in Victoria, but Roe said he had already earned his keep.
"It's all good. He brought excitement, put us on the map and out of that we've secured so many other players that can cover that loss," he said.
"He would have been double-teamed all season anyway.
"We put our resources into him, he got us that profile, it worked and now he's gone."
The Lions' goal is to try for a top four spot this season, something that would require at least eight wins.
They had only two victories last season but the way that they finished the season the highlight beating grand finalists Manunda on a Sunday afternoon no one is doubting their potential.
"We barely had a team for the first round last year and we've had 50-plus at training this season," he said.
"You'd say at least 30 of them are A-grade standard and there's still seven or so to come. The work the committee did, plus winning a few games, gets players excited."
Last year's captain and defensive rock, Paul Taverner and former AFL Cairns goal of the year winner Aaron Robbins have also left the club, but the influx has been strong.
Former Manunda Hawks Marc Harbrow and Damien Roe are two notable pick-ups, while the coach said that about 70 per cent of the side would be indigenous.
"Marc's (a former AFL Cape York development officer) connections will certainly help us," Roe said.
Cairns City will contest a round-robin pre-season tournament on Saturday, March 16, before the Lions play North Cairns in an Easter Friday (March 29) clash to open their season.
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