Lion cub rises to the challenge
RISING Star nomination Alex Witherden says the Brisbane Lions need to back up with another top-notch showing against the Sydney Swans on Saturday to prove their win over Hawthorn was not a flash in the pan.
Witherden became just the 11th player in AFL history to receive a second Rising Star nomination following recognition in round 17 last season.
The 19-year-old's 24 disposals in the Lions' drought-breaking win over Hawthorn on Sunday - after the club's horror 0-8 start to the season - means he has recorded 20 or more in 14 of his 18 career games.
He also had the backing of coach Chris Fagan, who said before Sunday's success he could not believe his young charge had not received a nomination this campaign.
Witherden said the mood in the Lions camp was buzzing but it was important to refocus for Saturday's game at the Gabba.
"There's been a real shift from yesterday to today,” he said.
"We have got a new focus and there's a steely resolve to get back out there Saturday and get another win to back up what we produced on Sunday.
"One win doesn't justify enough for us.”
Witherden said it had been tough to go winless in the opening eight games but hoped Sunday's performance would mark a turnaround in fortunes after the Lions climbed off the bottom of the ladder.
"It was a tough couple of months,” he said.
"Coming in on Monday and basically getting frustrated with each other because it was just little things that we were doing wrong that were costing us.
"We were going through the same things every Monday, whether it was not being selfless enough or just getting a few things wrong structurally.
"But this week has been a lot better because we realised that when we do execute that game plan and stick to our method it's going to work going forward.”
Witherden said the best thing about the win over Hawthorn was that the young Lions did it their way.
Brisbane had been close on the scoreboard in six of their eight defeats but Witherden said everything clicked into the place against the Hawks.
"The best thing about the result was that it was our method, our game style that worked,” he said.
"We had a huge emphasis on being selfless. Charlie Cameron probably took that to a new level by marking in the goal square and passing to someone else.
"But that's how we want to be known across the competition and that's when we play our best footy and that's got to be our focus looking forward.”