Lion locked in: ‘It would be ridiculous to leave’
BRISBANE'S list of young stars on long-term deals has swelled to five with rising star Alex Witherden extending his contract with the Lions until the end of 2022.
Witherden has become a mainstay of Brisbane's back half since locking down a senior berth midway through his debut 2017 season and was recognised as club rookie of the year in 2018 after finishing third overall in the AFL's Rising Star count behind Collingwood's Jaidyn Stephenson and Adelaide's Tom Doedee.
The Geelong Falcons junior informed Brisbane teammates of his three-year extension earlier this week and completes a quintet of young guns Hugh McCluggage (signed until the end of 2021), Cam Rayner (2021), Harris Andrews (2021) and Jarrod Berry (2024) with long-term aspirations at the Gabba.
Witherden was already committed through to the end of 2020 after signing a two-year deal in early 2018 but said on Tuesday his decision to extend his River City stay was a no-brainer.
"Two or three weeks ago, the club came to me and asked if I'd be interested in signing on till 2022 and I couldn't see why not," Witherden said.
"You know, with the way the club's going and the direction we're headed in, it would be ridiculous to leave.
"And I'm pretty settled now too, I'm looking to buy a house at the moment and a lot of my best mates are up here at this footy club, so as long as they're hanging around, where else would I want to be?"
Job security and off-field perks are one thing but Witherden's biggest motivator remains premiership success - and he's convinced Brisbane's current crop are capable up to the task.
"If we continue to work hard, continue to have that growth mindset and keep improving each year, I don't see why we can't get ourselves into a position where we really challenge at the end of September," Witherden said.
"Obviously we've got a long way to go with 11 rounds left this year we've got to focus on and more importantly the Carlton game this weekend, but yeah the future's definitely bright at the club and we know what could happen in the next few years."
Witherden was among Brisbane's best in last week's comeback win over Hawthorn and says he's adapted to his new defensive role.
"I've been a little bit quieter in terms of disposals and that's fine," he said.
"The way we're playing, we're really trying to keep the ball up in our forward half so I don't want to be getting a lot of the ball anyway.
"Our back six is really settled now with guys like Harris (Andrews), Darcy (Gardiner) and Daniel Rich having really good seasons and I'm more than happy being a role player fitting in around those guys."