The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

This club man hurt­ing to see a wounded pride

- ALASTAIR LYNCH

IT hurts to see the Bris­bane Lions where they are.

I’ve spent so many years at the club, with plenty of highs and a few lows along the way, and things ap­pear as tough as they have been for some time.

I fear there may be more pain around the cor­ner.

Play­ers are keen to down­play talk of rifts in the play­ing group, which is en­cour­ag­ing – and they are right in say­ing ro­bust dis­cus­sions hap­pen at all clubs.

But there are no short­age of ru­mours fly­ing around re pos­si­ble play­ing de­par­tures.

Jed Ad­cock, Matthew Leuen­berger and James Aish will go in the post-sea­son.

Spec­u­la­tion sur­rounds oth­ers, with names like Ste­fan Martin, Jack Red­den and Dayne Zorko front and cen­tre.

I would love to be proven wrong but I fear where there is smoke, there could yet be fire.

Justin Lep­pitsch an­swered re­peated ques­tions well this week, claim­ing those play­ers had no in­ten­tion of leav­ing.

But let’s wait un­til the trade pe­riod and, as he said, ‘‘If you’re right you’re right, if you’re not you’re not’’!

There’s re­ally noth­ing more he can say for now.

Highly re­spected by the play­ing group, high per­for­mance man­ager Brett Bur­ton and my brother Manny Lynch (player wel­fare) have de­cided to seek op­por­tu­ni­ties else­where.

We are told there is no cri­sis at the Gabba. Yet there has been enough rum­blings to force football di­rec­tor Leigh Matthews to come in and speak to the play­ing group.

Matthews, a leg­end of the game and enor­mously re­spected fig­ure for the young Lions, clearly felt the need to give clar­ity to what is go­ing on and to re­unite the play­ers.

The Lions ex­pected to see im­prove­ment this year.

They fin­ished off 2014 well and with Dayne Beams, Allen Christense­n and a hard-nosed midfielder in Mitch Robin­son ar­riv­ing, plus Daniel Rich and Leuen­berger re­turn­ing from in­jury, there was jus­ti­fied op­ti­mism.

Sadly, it has be­come another year lost.

Is­sues nat­u­rally in­ten­sify at a club stuck on the bot­tom, and out­side spec­u­la­tion will mount by the week.

At any club at any level, play­ers chal­lenge each other, whether it be be­hind the scenes or in a heated on-field ex­change. All nor­mal and mostly healthy. A sign of ma­tu­rity is to have those ex­changes and move on.

The talk out of the Lions this week from skip­per Tom Rock­liff and his deputy Zorko, sug­gested those guys have done just that.

Both good qual­ity peo­ple, you would ex­pect they would chal­lenge each other and team­mates in the search for suc­cess.

We have to re­mem­ber this is a very young group, with young lead­ers.

I was lucky enough to be in­volved a decade back in a Lions side that had its time at the bot­tom and worked its way to the top. Strong lead­er­ship which em­pow­ered oth­ers was a fea­ture of our time, and of all suc­cess­ful teams.

But, like now, we started as a young in­ex­pe­ri­enced group on the bot­tom.

Re­al­is­ti­cally, it will be three or four years un­til the Lions are back in se­ri­ous fi­nals con­tention.

Fans must wait pa­tiently for promis­ing for­wards such as Jono Free­man and Dan McS­tay to hit the age of 24 be­fore they have a real abil­ity to dom­i­nate games.

But the pa­tience of fans and play­ers alike will make suc­cess all the sweeter when it re­turns.

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