Brisbane coach Chris Fagan is all but resigned to losing Collingwood-bound Daniel McStay in free agency despite him not revealing his intentions yet.
The Lions’ season came to a crashing halt at Geelong’s hands on Friday night in a 71-point preliminary final demolition that illustrated the improvement they still need to make.
Brisbane will get a significant boost next year with likely No.1 selection Will Ashcroft to join a midfield that could also boast Bulldog Josh Dunkley – but Fagan refused to comment on Dunkley’s status.
On the sixth-year coach’s logic on McStay, one of Brisbane or Port Adelaide can expect to lure Dunkley out of the Kennel.
“I don’t know (what McStay is doing), because Dan hasn’t told me,” Fagan said.
“But I would suspect if he was going to be a Brisbane player next year, we would know that by now.
“So, if Collingwood is the club, then Collingwood is the club – that wouldn’t surprise me – but we haven’t had that conversation.”
Fagan deferred a question about Dunkley to his list management team, saying he was “not prepared to comment about potential trades from other clubs”.
The Lions were competitive enough in the first quarter on Friday night but a trend of not being able to solve the Cats’ defensive riddle had already begun.
Fagan was yet to address his players when he spoke to the media but expected the post-mortem to be a mixture of optimism about the strides they made in 2022 versus the preliminary final “disappointment”.
“There have been a lot of good things that have happened this year,” he said.
“(Friday night) wasn’t one of them, so we shouldn’t not talk about those things.
“But we should also talk about the learnings we get from playing against a great side like Geelong, which just played a brilliant finals game tonight and looks in great shape for next week.”
Fagan said Brisbane was beaten in every area but drew inspiration from the Cats’ ability to bounce back from repeat failures on the biggest stages.
He was also hopeful No.1 draft pick Cam Rayner dodged a serious ankle injury, even though he was subbed out of the contest after trying to play on.
“I think it’s just a normal rolled ankle, but I don’t know that for sure,” Fagan said.
“I guess we’ll get scans and find out a little bit more. Hopefully, that’s all it is.
“That’s one of the good things – he’s been able to come back from a knee reconstruction this year and should be better for that next year. Eric Hipwood the same.
“We won 17 games this year, which is the most we’ve won in a season for a long time, so there are some positives. The game itself is pretty disappointing, but these things toughen you up.”