Brisbane Lions still undecided on No. 1 pick

(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Despite speculation this week that Brisbane was leaning towards bolter Andrew Brayshaw as its No.1 selection at next week's national draft, Lions officials insist they are yet to make a decision on the identity of their top pick.

Armed with the prized selection to bolster their impressive stock of youngsters, Lions' national recruiting manager Stephen Conole told ESPN his staff was still in the midst of reviewing this year's talent.

"We haven't [decided who to take at No. 1 yet] and that's honestly the truth," Conole said in an interview with ESPN.

"We've got a couple more catch-ups with players and there are others doing testing, so we've got to sit down early next week and put it all to bed.

"This time next week we'll be well-sorted, but there are still a few things to play out."

Brayshaw, the Sandringham Dragons gun, emerged as a No. 1 smoky this week, while year-long fancies Cameron Rayner, Jack Higgins and Darcy Fogarty are still very much in the mix.

Conole said it was hard to separate the cream of the crop.

"It's really tight. We've got some fundamentals in terms of our footy stuff that we're pretty strict on," he said. "Plus we need to make sure they have the off-field attributes to really fit into our footy club.

"We're looking for talent. That's unquestionable. We're looking at players that can move into the midfield. That might be guys that play primarily through there or might be able to play in a secondary role as well."

The Lions have come a long way since they almost became crippled by player retention problems, with just four of 24 players selected since 2013 no longer at the club.

James Aish's defection to Collingwood almost triggered a near-complete exodus when Rising Star winner Lewis Taylor considered his options to return home to Victoria. Under-performing seasons followed, which ironically resuscitated the club from the brink.

The Lions' demise meant they could blood last year's crop of bright stars - Hugh McCluggage (18 games), Jarrod Berry (16), Alex Witherden (nine) and Cedric Cox (eight).

And throw in its impressive graduates from its academy program - Eric Hipwood, Harris Andrews and Ben Keays - and suddenly it's not a far-fetched belief that Brisbane could transform from laughing stock to a team that could potentially have the last laugh.

"There's still a lot of work to be done to be considered a destination club, but certainly the foundations are there," Conole told ESPN.

"Off the field there is some stability and growth and on the field we're maximising our resources to get the best out of our players.

"The coaches have given the kids an opportunity at either end of the ground and have been played in unfamiliar positions where we think they can play a key role for us going forward.

"The majority of the boys seem to be signing on and enjoying being around the footy club."