Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan says new star recruit Joe Daniher is a smarter footballer than many people give him credit for.
Daniher made the high-profile move from Essendon to the Lions as a restricted free agent during the off-season, choosing to end his time at the club after eight seasons.
Speaking at length about Daniher following an uninterrupted pre-season and impressive early scratch match form, Fagan was optimistic the 26-year-old's recent injury troubles were a thing of the past and he was ready to attack 2021 with a clean bill of health.
“Joe (Daniher) is a fantastic player,” Fagan said on Sportsday.
“He’s a better player than I even realised, he’s so smart and a brainy player. He’s a great mark and we have a lot to look forward to there if he can stay fit and well.
“(He’s smart) because of his leading patterns, his understanding of the game and not just as a forward but his ability to play in the ruck. If you put him behind the ball, he seems to be able to find the ball so he’s a really clever player.
“He sees everything that goes on around him and brings his teammates into the game, the thing about him is he’s been able to train every session.
“I spoke to our fitness gut the other day and he’s in the top three of four for training loads over summer, he’s in good shope and in good form.
“Hopefully the frustrations of the last couple of years are behind him and he can put his best footy forward.”
Fagan said it was important to acknowledge that it wasn’t “just the Joe Daniher show” at the club this year, saying he was expecting improvement from a range of other players.
He praised Essendon for the way they were able to nurse him back to full fitness during the back end of last season, before he opted for a fresh start in Queensland.
“Joe was playing by the end of last season so it’s not just he hadn’t come back to play," he said.
“I think Essendon did a lot of good work with him and Joe to get his body right, so I think our guys up here have been able to continue that.
“We’re the beneficiaries of Joe wanting to make a change of where his football was headed, we’re really grateful he’s come to our club and we think he can make a difference.
“But all the other guys need to improve as well, it’s not just the Joe Daniher show.”