AFL: Jaspa Fletcher and Lions chasing premiership redemption

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Brisbane Lions young gun Jaspa Fletcher is confident he can overcome second-year syndrome as he takes the first steps on the long road to premiership redemption following the heartbreak of last season’s grand final loss.

A father-son draft selection, the teenage midfielder made 14 appearances in his maiden AFL season after overcoming a back injury that delayed his entry into senior football.

Of the 14 matches, Fletcher was part of a winning team on 11 occasions, but unfortunately for him and the Lions, one of the three defeats was the four-point grand final loss to Collingwood in September.

“It was a great experience,” Fletcher said ahead of the Lions’ first intra-club trial of 2024 on Friday at Springfield.

“To run out there on grand final day in front of 100,000 people at 19 years old is always a dream come true.

“Obviously, result didn’t go our way. We had our moments, they had their moments and it will be a great reflection of us for this year to strive and go one better.

“You never want to lose a grand final, and unfortunately, that happened, but this year we’re going for it again.”

Fletcher is bound to get more attention from opponents this season, but he’s backing himself to improve rather than drop off in his performances as is sometimes the case with young players after a breakout first year.

“You do know that once you’re in the system one year that you’re all on a level playing base now,” the son of former Bears and Lions midfielder Adrian Fletcher said.

“You don’t come in as round-1 draft pick. You’re an AFL player now, so you’ve really got to hold your own.

“I’m just trying to get as fit as possible. That was my goal coming in to this pre-season.

“Last year, I didn’t get to do it with my back injury, so I’m just trying to get through all the training to make sure my body’s right and learn off the boys.

“We’ve got such a great list, especially for me in the midfield. I’ve got ‘Dunks’ (Josh Dunkley), ‘Hughy’ (Hugh McCluggage), ‘Bez’ (Jarrod Berry), ‘Choc’ (Lachie Neale) and all those of boys to really learn and get a bit of experience from.”

Fletcher, who turns 20 on February 24, hoped to improve on his “inside game” this season.

“Last year, I found myself on the wing and a little bit of half-back through the VFL,” he said.

“To keep working on my body size and my body work at stoppages is definitely a goal of mine, but at the same time, I want to keep working on my strengths on my outside game.

“It’s all about going out there through the intra-club (games) now and just putting it all together.”

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