Brisbane are a basket case. Off the field, things are at rock bottom, and on the field, they aren’t much worse.
A proud club, who not that long ago, this team was winning premierships – they’ve been on a slide since they lost to Port Adelaide in the 2004 Grand Final. Over the last 13-16 years, they have lost a raft of premiership stars and have seen the competition, across New South Wales and Victoria improve to a level where Brisbane was no longer the place to be.
As the other teams built strong teams, Brisbane began to slide, their lack of appeal playing against them. Then in 2008, after ten years and three premierships, Leigh Matthews resigned, an unwelcoming occurence given the spate of stars who were also walking away.
In the space of ten years from 2006, the lions have lost; Leigh Matthews, Michael Voss, Mal Michael , Justin Lepptisch, Jason Akermanis, Luke Power, Simon Black, Chris and Brad Scott, Nigel Lappin, Jonathan Brown and Chris Johnson. In a ten year period, the Brisbane Lions lost a staggering 2114 games worth of experience… just from their star players!
Not only did they lose a raft of stars in that time, but in a nine year period from 2007 to now, they have lost a raft of young draft talent to the ‘Go-home’ factor, and inept trading policies, players such as; Lachie Henderson, Jack Redden, Jared Polec, Jack Crisp, Elliot Yeo, Billy Longer and James Aish.
In an eleven year span, Brisbane has seen the old and the it’s effect have been truly jarring. Insipid performances have riddled the past three to four seasons and any effort that has been made to right the ship has failed. New coaches, new board, new players – nothing has worked.
So, now that we know why they’ve gone wrong, the question is, how do you fix it?
Well, it’s no easy fix (obviously), but you start from the top.
COACH: The Brisbane Lions have had a terrible habit of looking far too internally for coaches. Whilst there’s only been two instances, they should have learnt their lesson the first time around. Michael Voss was hailed as a white knight, and what did he deliver? A winning percentage of 39.9% over a five year tenure. Next up? Former Premiership Vice-Captain Justin Leppitsch, who, in three terrible season had a winning percentage of just 21.2%. It’s painfully clear that this has not worked, and it has to stop.
So, now on the hunt for another coach, they have to look externally. It’s a hard job to sell to a prospective coach, but there are plenty out there who could take up the charge. The obvious choice would be Brett Ratten, having the experience from his time at Carlton, who were in a similar position when he was the head coach, he seems to be the man to right the ship. However, prizing him away from Hawthorn could prove an issue. If he is not an option, look to experienced assistant coaches, Brett Montgomery and Peter Sumich to raise their hands.
TRADING: The raft of losses in the past five years has seen Brisbane end up with pennies on the pound. Brisbane must be aggressive and specific in who they target. No longer can they look for the ‘Big Name’ ie; Fevola to save them. Players such as Jack Frost and Nathan Vardy are the ilk they should be targeting.
Both present themselves as low risk investments for the Lions, given their injury history, Collingwood and Geelong respectively would look to get them off their books for a relatively cheap amount. So, they could gain two players with experience and age, for little loss – low risk, and should their bodies hold up, room for high reward.
FOLLOW PORT ADELAIDE’S LEAD: Financially faulting, Brisbane have been making it known of their complaints with the facilities they train in, but nothing has happened to correct it, why? Well, that doesn’t matter, through your pride out and get on your hands and knees and beg for help. Follow the lead of Port Adelaide, who, themselves no more than five years ago were on the verge of succumbing to their financial woes.
Taking a payout from the AFL kept them afloat and allowed them to spend and has been a catalyst for their change in fortunes in recent years.
PUT THE CAPTAINCY ON A YOUNGSTER: Tom Rockliff has taken this team as far as he can. His form has dropped of dramatically and his attitude is certainly a worrying sign. Far too often this year, when he’s dropped his head, the rest of the team has with him. So, put the armband on a youngster – not as a means to tie him down to the club, but to give the club a new lease on life and to give the playing group a chance to experience something new. Daniel McStay would be a fantastic choice.
Ultimately, it’s not an easy one move fix, but the reality is, if Brisbane were to employ any of these tactics, they could see a change in fortunes. Only time, and a new coach will tell.