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Andrews loving Lions’ share of responsibility

Brisbane Lions youngster Harris Andrews has been named the Rising Star nominee for Round 18, following a career-best match against Geelong on Saturday at Kardinia Park.

The first-year Lion collected 22 disposals at 96 percent efficiency and took 12 marks – three contested – while playing in defence during the 56-point loss.

Standing at 200cm and weighing 92kg, Andrews has had a stunning debut season for a key position player – having expected to feature only in the NEAFL in 2015.

Due to the club’s unexpected injury toll, the 18-year-old was thrust into the Brisbane line-up in Round 3 against Richmond. Playing as a forward he roosted a long goal from beyond 50 metres before plugging holes in the ruck and in defence to fill the needs of the club, averaging 11 disposals and five marks across his 14 games this season.

Andrews was originally drafted as a ruckman/forward by the Lions with pick 61 in the 2014 draft as the club’s academy selection, having grow up in Aspley – 16km north of Brisbane – but seems to have found a niche in defence with his outstanding ability to read the flight of the ball.

Highlighting his marking prowess, Andrews leads the Lions for contested grabs in 2015 with 19 for the season and has shown great aptitude for floating across and intercepting the ball in the back half.

“It’s a bit different to up forward when you’ve got a bloke holding on to you and scragging you” – Harris Andrews on playing in the backline

Aside from being strong overhead, Andrews also has elite endurance and athleticism, enabling him to play anywhere on the ground and is a comfortable set shot on goal.

One of eight players selected from the NEAFL in last year’s draft – along with fellow Lion and Aspley product Liam Dawson – Andrews has stated his desire to stay at Brisbane for a long time yet, telling the club’s website “Brisbane’s my home; it’s where my family, friends and school friends are. I love Brisbane and it’s a great place to be”.

During his Rising Star press conference, Andrews said being inexperienced at the elite level, he’s more suited to playing down back where he can use his marking abilities to the side’s advantage.

“Because I’m still a bit lightly-built, I’ve been able to play off my man a bit and then come in a bit later,” Andrews said.

“It’s a bit different to up forward when you’ve got a bloke holding on to you and scragging you.

“I’ve done a fair bit of work over the off-season on marking, because the way the game’s going it’s a pretty valuable trait.”

Andrews also said the tutoring of one of the game’s most improved defenders has helped his development.

“Justin Clarke has been really good for me. I’ve played a fair bit of footy with him now down back and it’s a pretty tough position at times and you’re under the pump a fair bit.

“He’s really helped me out with the positioning and stuff like that; he’s been all over it.”

Excluding the Brisbane Bears period, Andrews is the club’s seventh Rising Star nominee since the start of 2012 and is the 36th Lion to be nominated since the awards inception in 1993.

The Lions have had two Ron Evans Medallists – Daniel Rich in 2009 and Lewis Taylor in 2014 – and the Brisbane Bears also had two winners from their five nominations before they merged with Fitzroy in 1996, with Nathan Buckley winning the inaugural award in 1993 and Chris Scott taking the award home in 1994.