By Peter Blucher
Keidean Coleman is living proof that 12 months is a long time in football.
This time last year, as the Brisbane Lions prepared for their second final of the Covid-interrupted 2020 season against Geelong at the Gabba, Coleman was left out of the side.
Having made his finals debut in just his fifth game in the qualifying final win over Richmond, he was squeezed out when Cam Ellis-Yolmen was included to give some extra size and strength to the midfield.
This week, as the Lions prepared for their second final of the Covid-interrupted 2021 season against the Western Bulldogs at the Gabba, Coleman is riding the highest of highs.
He is a selection lock, coming off the best game of his now 22-game career in the disappointing loss last week to Melbourne in Adelaide.
Not only did the 21-year-old Lions Academy product have a career-best 18 possessions in a new role in defence, but he was more poised and effective than many of his bigger name teammates.
Certainly he would have put a giant smile on the faces of people in Katherine, in the Northern Territory, where he was born.
Similarly, people at the Wynnum Vikings and Morningside Panthers would have been celebrating the progress of a quiet, shy Indigenous player who has been rewarded for persistence after being overlooked in the 2018 NAB AFL draft.
Only after he chose to have another year in the Lions Academy as an over-age player was he given the chance he dreamed of when picked up by the Lions with selection #37 in the 2019 AFL draft.
Coleman, who became a first-time father last month, was the first Queenslander taken in the 2019 draft when Brisbane matched a bid from Essendon for the 182cm speedster.
He was the only player from the 2019 draft to play in the 2020 finals, and despite his selection omission 12 months ago he will still top the finals count for 2019 draftees after Saturday night’s game against the Dogs.
Yet it could all have been totally different for Coleman, who last year was delighted to see younger brother Blake join him on the Lions list.
There was a very strong push at one of the other interstate clubs to take Coleman in the 2018 rookie draft after Brisbane have overlooked him, before the club settled instead on a local.
Now, after having shown this year he offers value and both ends of the field, he can look forward with greater surety to an extended stay with the Lions.
With Essendon and Sydney out of the 2021 finals race after last weekend, the Queensland representation in the business end of the season is down to three cubs – Port Adelaide, Brisbane and GWS.
Best placed are the Port pair of Charlie Dixon and Aliir Aliir, who are enjoying a week off ahead of a home preliminary final after getting the better of Geelong last week.
There is no certainty Queensland will be represented in the GWS side against Geelong on Friday night, with Sam Reid under a big cloud with a hamstring problem.
And although Coleman will definitely play for Brisbane against the Bulldogs, there is much debate on the makeup of the Lions side, with Jack Payne and Connor Ballenden in the selection mix as coach Chris Fagan, already without Eric Hipwood, searches for a replacement for Daniel McStay.
Peter Blucher is a Consultant with Vivid Sport.