The mysterious case of promising young Brisbane forward Josh Schache is no closer to being solved.
The No.2 selection in the 2015 draft has headed home to country Victoria this week while some of his teammates prepare for the NEAFL grand final against Sydney. He is said to have 'hit the wall' late in the season and, because of that fatigue, did not play in the NEAFL side's preliminary final victory over Sydney Uni at the Gabba last weekend.
Schache, 20, was granted personal leave earlier in the season as well, but returned to Queensland and recommitted to the Lions for a further two years.
But the latest episode has cast doubt on his future at the northern club.
While Schache is tied to the Lions until 2019, ESPN has been told he could be off-loaded to a Melbourne club in preference for homegrown Queensland talent - to strengthen the Lions' chances of retaining players.
The club has a surplus of key-position players with another impressive crop of youngsters coming through the Lions' Academy program.
Despite speculation the 20-year-old could be lured back to Victoria, Brisbane Lions reserves coach Mitch Hahn told ESPN that Schache was a vital part of the club's future.
"He's a contracted player, so I think that's where it starts and stops," Hahn said. "He's contracted with the club and we're looking forward to working with him. He can be a big part of the club's success going forward."
Two of Brisbane's youngsters - Connor Ballenden and Jack Payne - have stood out in the NEAFL this year and could follow in dynamic forward Eric Hipwood's footsteps as have graduates of the talent pathway.
The key-position pair could be promoted to the Lions' senior list in 2018, Hahn said. "Both of those guys have still got a lot of areas to improve in but they've certainly got some AFL attributes," Hahn told ESPN.
"The fact that we've had them for a few games this year has been really positive for the club to be able to see them and for the players to also get to know them.
"One of strengths, especially at NEAFL level, has been our tall players. Harris Andrews and Dan McStay have held our key pillars in defence, so Jackson would be our third tall if he was to go down in defence.
"Connor, who's a forward, he'd be going up against Josh Walker, who had a really good end to his year, and Eric Hipwood.
"I wouldn't be confident in saying they'd be straight in and making an immediate impact. They're kids who show some talent but have still got a lot of areas to work on."
The Lions play the Swans in the NEAFL grand final on Saturday night at the SCG, with Schache back home in Seymour, immediately following the Swans-Essendon elimination final.