The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
This club man hurting to see a wounded pride
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.