SET TO IMPRESS: Jonathan Freeman is set to silence the critics.
SET TO IMPRESS: Jonathan Freeman is set to silence the critics. JOE CASTRO

Meek Jono needs touch of ‘mongrel’ to roar with Lions

LEGENDARY Lion Jonathan Brown says Noosa product Jono Freeman is the man to replace him at the Gabba and become Brisbane's key forward for the next decade.

Mentoring Freeman as a rookie gave Brown an insight into the fourth-rounder's potential and he believes the towering 20 year old is primed to play a major role in Brisbane's resurgence.

"I'm very excited about him and I think he's got a big future," Brown said.

"With him and Michael Close, we'll be set in the forward position for the next decade."

Freeman played in just four games as a rookie last year but showed glimpses that he could become a key factor for the struggling Lions in his sophomore campaign.

Brown's retirement last season sparked concerns about Brisbane's forward stocks but the former captain believes Freeman and co. are ready to answer their doubters.

"A lot of players are getting that ownership and they are starting to realise they can play at this level," he said. "You are seeing them take ownership and they are intent on getting us back into that top-four position."

The mild-mannered Freeman spoke about the need to develop the on-field mongrel that made Brown one of the

league's most feared competitors.

"Jono's a pretty reserved sort of a fella off the field but he knows he has to play with aggression and presence on the footy field," Brown said.

"He showed that toward the end of last year and that will come with confidence no doubt.

"The more games he has like that game against Collingwood where he kicked four goals; he's just going to grow with confidence more and more and be able to show that presence and be that beacon for our tremendous young midfield to kick to."

Brown points to former teammate and fellow triple premiership winner Nigel Lappin, who played Brisbane's 2003 grand final win with a broken rib, as one off-field nice guy who played with a mean streak.

"He was as quiet a bloke off the field as you would see but he's a tremendous competitor on the field and he's very vocal, all those sorts of things," Brown said. "That's what Jono's developing.

"A lot of the younger fellas coming into the AFL, they were quieter fellas.

"They're trying to play their way into the system, no doubt, but the more good football they can play the more confidence they will get and the more they will be able to contribute to the team and take ownership of the team."

Brown was part of a contingent that travelled to the Coast last week to play a golf day that raised money for children's charity Sunny Kids.


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