Lions’ class of 2014 a cut above – Daniel Merrett
AFL: Brisbane fullback Daniel Merrett said he believes the Lions team of 2014 is as tight-knit as he is with his beard.
Merrett has not shaved off his now famous red facial hair for what he thought was at least seven or eight years.
"I was talking to my mate about it the other day and we were discussing when it may no longer be cool to have a beard," the 29-year-old said.
"Some people might think I'm due to start a new cycle, but it's not going anywhere for a long time."
And despite the off-season departures of a handful of the club's homesick players in Patrick Karnezis, Billy Longer, Sam Docherty, Jared Polec and Elliott Yeo, Merrett said he was confident members of this year's group were also not going anywhere fast.
He said a pre-season trip to Arizona, involving the entire squad rather than just players who had at least five years in the AFL under their belts, had brought everyone even closer under new coach Justin Leppitsch.
"The group's really solid and united at the moment," Merrett said.
"Justin wanted everyone over there and we all got through some tough sessions together, which was great for team camaraderie. Leppa has also brought in some new game-plans and they've freshened everyone up."
After breaking his ankle in August last year, Merrett said he was on track to return for the daunting first-round clash against reigning premier Hawthorn in Launceston on March 22.
- JOSH SPASARO
APN SPORTS BUREAU