Hugh McCluggage of the Lions celebrates his goal.
Hugh McCluggage of the Lions celebrates his goal.

Power play: McCluggage a ‘real star’

Luke Power's mates love to rib him that he's not the best player to wear the No.6 guernsey for the Lions.

The joke loses its sting though because Power agrees.

The triple premiership star, who is now the AFL's national academy manager and head coach, is a huge fan of incumbent No.6 Hugh McCluggage.

"I love him - I reckon he is a great player,'' he said.

"It is funny because all my mates always say he is the best No.6 Brisbane have had and I agree with them.

"He will continue to get better, too.''

Power visited the Lions last year and said he came away with firm belief Chris Fagan was creating a culture where players were heavily invested and proud of their club.

"I was really impressed with all the kids, but particularly McCluggage and Jarrod Berry and I got the sense they were proud of their environment - they really welcomed me with open arms,'' he said.

"I know I'm a past player but it is not always the case when players go back to their old clubs, but the amount of players who came up and introduced themselves and shook hands, I was a bit blown away.''

McCluggage played a blinder in Brisbane's big weekend win over the Swans.

In his third year he has evolved from a half-forward or bit-part midfield role player to a genuine ball-winner.

The talent was always there. Coach Chris Fagan said McCluggage's rapid development could be put down to the extra 8kg he had stacked on since arriving as a skinny 77kg via pick three in the 2016 draft.

"That doesn't happen by accident that happens through hard work and eating good food and leading a disciplined life,'' Fagan said.

"What that has enabled him to do is bring his talent forward, he has got stronger, he has got fitter and we are seeing a real young star of the competition emerging.

"And he's a level-headed fellow so I am happy to say that about him because I know he won't get carried away by that.

"He is a brilliant young man to coach and he spends a lot of time trying to make himself better.''

McCluggage played games like his Saturday night performance in his first two years at the club. The elevation this year is the consistency of his performances each week and the balance of his contribution.

He arrived as a highly-touted outside player but has become the complete package - 13 of his 25 possessions were contested and he also won four clearances and laid six tackles.

"He has been 20-to-30 possessions every game, he hits the scoreboard,'' Fagan said.

"He has got so much better at his pressure game also. He tackles a lot better than he used to, just because he is a bit stronger.

"He is developing into a good all-round player.''

News Corp Australia

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