IF THE great Jonathan Brown doesn't play another game for his beloved Brisbane Lions, Michael Close will be forever grateful he got the chance to play with his idol and now mentor.
The three-time premiership centre-half forward is weighing up his future after receiving another blow to the head during the Lions' loss to GWS last week that left him suffering from concussion. He has been left out of the side to take on Fremantle at Perth's Patersons Stadium tonight.
Brown had resisted the temptation to retire at the end of last season to help nurture the next generation of Brisbane key forwards he described as being his "boys" during the pre-season.
Among them is 19-year-old Close, who feels fortunate he was able to debut this season alongside Brown.
Close hails from the tiny town of Harrow in western Victoria, "which is about two hours from where Jonny's from in Warrnambool", he told APN. "He (Brown) was certainly an idol growing up."
After being drafted in 2012, the 196cm Close has played five senior games, all alongside the "intimidating figure" that is the 256-game champion.
"I've been working with him a lot this year, a lot of engage-separate stuff and a lot of other things ... just his knowledge that he has been able to pass on to me has been great," Close (pictured) said.
While the Lions have put tremendous faith in Close to help fill the big shoes that will be left by Brown's absence, signing him until 2017, the athletic big man is keen to make more of an impact.
He has been dropped back to the reserves a couple of times this season, but has shown glimpses of his ability to take a strong grab in front of the big sticks, taking three marks and kicking two goals against the Giants.
"There is a spot there for the taking," Close said.
"I hope I can keep playing some good footy and make that spot mine, which would be great."
Close will be joined in attack tonight by Daniel Merrett as they look to capitalise on a Dockers defence minus Luke McPharlin and Michael Johnson.
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