Lions head into AFLW season with winning vibe
Lions AFLW captain Emma Zielke says it's an honour to lead her beloved Brisbane again and admits she has drawn inspiration from the men's "incredible" 2019.
The AFLW season was launched in Melbourne ahead of the season-opener between Richmond and Carlton on Friday night.
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The Lions begin their campaign against reigning premiers Adelaide at Wilston Grange's Hickey Park on Saturday night, in what will be a "new-look" Brisbane squad.
Zielke has taken the captain's reins after skippering the club to back-to-back grand final appearances in 2017 and 2018.
The 31-year-old said she was honoured to lead the Lions again and had been impressed with the influx of new talent after the departure of several top players.
"Personally, I'm fitter and stronger than I have been before, which is a credit to our conditioning staff," Zielke said.
"It's always a great feeling to be voted in by your peers.
"I've been at the club for four seasons, so I love the club and I'm really honoured to lead the girls this year.
"We speak a lot about the exodus that happened at the end of last year, but the girls that we've brought in are just so refreshing.
"The vibe around the group is great. It's such a competitive environment and we're all pushing each other."
Zielke said she had learnt a lot since her first stint as captain but was looking to keep improving.
She has taken inspiration from the men's 2019 campaign which carried them to a first AFL finals appearance in 10 years.
"We haven't really spoken about it (the men's season) but it is inspiring, there's no doubt about it," Zielke said.
"We all went to all of their games. The vibe around the club during that time was incredible.
"We've never experienced that before at the Lions ... and hope they can do it again in 2020."
Round 1 opponent Adelaide is the same club which broke Brisbane hearts in the 2017 grand final.
Rather than dwelling on the past, Zielke said the players were concentrating on what was in front of them.
"We've pretty much got to focus on the team they're putting out on the park this weekend," she said.
"We've obviously got a new team as well, so we can only focus on what's happening now.
"We know they're a quality team, so we really have to hone in and stop them."
Adelaide will kick off their season without Erin Phillips, but remain confident their co-captain will play an early role in their premiership defence.
Phillips, who tore her ACL in Adelaide's grand final win last March, then had an arthroscope on her knee in December, has set her sights on an early-season return but she and ruck Rhiannon Metcalfe will miss Saturday's season opener.