AFL: New Lions Coach Chris Fagan has indicated he won’t tolerate excuses while in charge at Brisbane.
WAS Chris Fagan suggesting Tom Rockliff could retain the Lions captaincy or was he trying to buoy his spirits for the day he sacks him?
Or was he simply rewarding a man for lifting his game?
These were the provocative questions hanging in the air after the new Brisbane Lions coach made his first public offering of the year in a press conference at the Gabba announcing the club’s new jersey deal with Majestic Athletic.
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No point Fagan made seemed as important to him as getting it out there that Rockliff’s attitude had impressed him over the summer.
Rockliff had been Lions captain for two years but it was a tempestuous reign with everything from his attitude to his skin folds being criticised and several close observers of the team generally unimpressed by him.
The Lions considered trading him at the season’s end but there was no major interest and it would be a surprise if he retains the captaincy.
Fagan declared the captaincy up for grabs when he got to the club and it was generally considered either Dayne Beams or Dayne Zorko would replace Rockliff and they remain the favourites.
But Fagan’s support of Rockliff has clouded the mix.
“I’ve got to say, in regards to Tom, a lot was said about him last year,” Fagan said.
“I wasn’t here at the club. I can only judge him on how I’ve found him since I’ve been here.
“He’s been fantastic around the group, he’s trained hard, he’s been a leader around the club and been very supportive of me in my first few months here.
“I just want to put that on the table.”
Fagan said Rockliff claimed he would have no qualms accepting a position in the leadership group even if he was not made captain and this may yet be his destiny.
“That’s a fantastic attitude by him … it shows the sort of character he is,” Fagan said.
Fagan claims he had a “heavy” chat with Rockliff after he joined the club.
“I just pointed out a few things I’d heard about him. It wasn’t my opinion of him — it was just what I’d heard,” he said.
“It was up to him to show me and the rest of the coaching group and his teammates what he was about this year.
“He’s been very, very good.
“I had a very neutral view of Tom when I came to the club and I was all about giving him an opportunity to show us what he can do, as I have done with every other player on the list.”
The club has appointed Leading Teams development group assist in their captaincy review and different leaders will be trialled before the next captain is announced around March.