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.

LIVE BLOG: Two debutants in Blues team for Origin I

Jarryd Hayne will return to the NSW side.

Protests ramp up against Lennox Head Ski Jump

NO RAMP FOR LENNOX: Pictured (front) are Cr Phil Meehan and Michelle Shearer with others who this Saturday will protest the proposal to build a ski jump at Lennox Head.

Ski Jump protesters putting pressure on Ballina mayor David Wright

Unique program brings students back to learning

Year nine students talk with residents at Crowley Village in Ballina as part of Xavier Catholic College's 'Enrichment Program'.

New program recognises Year 9 as a difficult period for students

Local Partners

Grow your own dwarf citrus trees

LIMITED gardening space and/or sick of expensive shop-bought fruit? The our gardening expert has some vaulable advice plus a new lemon variety to try.

First female superhero film in 12 years

AMAZON: Actress Gal Gadot in a scene from the film Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman opens next Thursday

Stories Troy Cassar-Daley carries around

LEGEND: Troy Cassar-Daley after receiving the Golden Guitar Award for Album of the Year during the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January.

You can see him in Ballina this weekend

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

Ariana 'in hysterics' after blast

THE entertainment industry is reeling today after news of a blast at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that’s killed 19 people.

19 dead, 50 injured in Ariana Grande 'terror attack'

Armed police stand guard at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017.

"We saw blood on people when we got outside."

Pitch Perfect star suing Woman’s Day over ‘liar’ articles

Actor Rebel Wilson outside court on Friday.

REBEL Wilson's career destroyed by grubby campaign, court hears.

First female superhero film in 12 years

AMAZON: Actress Gal Gadot in a scene from the film Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman opens next Thursday

Seven Year Switch: The boner to end all boners

Johnny’s outraged over claims he has a cracked boner.

She gulps. Her face says it all.

Bay to star in Hollywood shark thriller ‘Cage Dive’

Cage Dive, written and directed by Gerald Rascionato, is now screening in the United States of America. It had scenes filmed in Hervey Bay.

And our visiting humpback whales also make appearance.

Celebrity sex tapes: Where does all that money go?

Basically, did Paris and Kim earn fortunes from their videos?

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

REVEALED: Where it's cheaper to pay off a mortgage than rent

6/190 Ewing Rd, Woodridge, is listed for offers $215,000. Picture: realestate.com.au

Brisbane suburbs where it is cheaper to buy than rent

The hardest place in the state to find a rental property

RENTAL SHORTAGE: Richmond River, Ballina Bar Emigrant Creek Pacific Highway Teven Interchange. Photo Jay Cronan / The Northern Star

Not enough supply to meet insatiable demand

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!