Rayner ready to sink teeth into finals series
CAM Rayner is the physical reminder of how far the Brisbane Lions have come in a short time.
If it wasn't for the club claiming the wooden spoon in 2017, they would not have gained the No.1 selection in that year's draft - and would not have scooped up the player likened to a young Dustin Martin.
"Going through the draft process two years ago, bottom-of-the-ladder clubs come to your house saying 'in a couple of years we feel like we're going to be pushing for the top'," Rayner recalled. "You're like 'yeah, yeah, got ya'.
"But, to get up here and see it all unfold before my eyes, it's been awesome. The boys have come through.
"It's good for the older boys to finally get some success. They've been struggling for a long time."
With second-placed Brisbane playing premiership favourite Richmond on Saturday night for the chance to host a preliminary final in two weeks' time, Rayner will play finals in just his second season.
In contrast, ruckman Stef Martin has waited 12 years, skipper Dayne Zorko eight.
"It's exciting, it's another challenge, but we're trying to keep it normal, stick to the basics," Rayner said.
"We've had a great home-and-away season but it means nothing now. It's a whole new ball game."
The Lions have spent a couple of weeks licking their wounds after being beaten by the Tigers in the final round of the season but Rayner said they will grow from the experience.
"The last two weeks were probably the best preparation we could've had for finals - Geelong here at the Gabba and then down to the MCG where Richmond have been so dominant," he said.
"I felt like in the third quarter (against the Tigers) we played really well. It was just the start of the game that cost us.
"But coming back, we get to play in front of the Gabba crowd again. I can't wait."