In Chris Fagan, the Brisbane Lions now trust

Lions coach Chris Fagan during the round one match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Brisbane Lions at Metricon Stadium
Lions coach Chris Fagan during the round one match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Brisbane Lions at Metricon Stadium Jason O'Brien

TWELVE months ... no, make that six months ago, most Brisbane Lions supporters would not have heard of the name Chris Fagan.

Even retiring fullback Dan Merrett thought it "from left field" when the unassuming 55-year-old was being spoken of as a possible replacement for axed senior coach Justin Leppitsch.

But after just one round of the 2017 season, Fagan has suddenly become the club's new fan favourite.

And with good reason.

One win, even over Queensland rival the Gold Coast, is not going to make a coaching career.

But, just what the previously untried Fagan has brought to the battling Lions was there for all to see at Metricon Stadium as they beat the Suns in an absorbing QClash.

Accountability, desire and a no-fuss, get-the-ball-moving game plan were the hallmarks of this Lions outfit under Fagan.

This after the Lions looked to be going backwards in more ways than one in 2016.

The Lions had jumped from the blocks to lead at one stage by 47 points before holding off the fast-finishing Suns.

The Lions of old would have been completely overrun.


Rohan Bewick (centre) celebrates scoring a goal with Brisbane teammates.
Rohan Bewick (centre) celebrates scoring a goal with Brisbane teammates. DAN PELED

But not this group. Not under Fagan's watch. Not with this new-found "heart".

"If we bring that effort and intent as we did in the first half and we show that spirit, particularly in the dying stages, then by the end of the year we'll be known as a really honest football team," Fagan said post-match. "But there's a long way to go."

That there is, but all Lions fans had asked for was hope. If not hope of victory, then at least hope of providing a contest - and with it the respect that has been missing for so long.

And Fagan is certainly bringing both. Fagan has two decades of success behind him.

He never actually played a game in the VFL or AFL, but the Tasmanian football hall-of-famer has carved out one heck of an off-field resume at the elite level.

He had been almost as big an influence on setting the standards at Hawthorn as senior coach Alastair Clarkson, initially as head of coaching and development and then general manager of football operations.


Brisbane Lions players celebrates scoring a goal
Brisbane Lions players celebrates scoring a goal DAN PELED

Among his briefs was to train the coaches, among them 2016 premiership winner Luke Beveridge, as well as Leon Cameron, Brendon Bolton, Adam Simpson, Damien Hardwick and Clarkson himself.

Before joining the Hawks he spent a decade at Melbourne where he worked alongside Neale Daniher as reserves coach, assistant coach and then football boss.

Daniher said in 2014: "Finding Chris Fagan was the best recruiting decision I made in all my time at Melbourne. His work ethic, his people-management skills and his enthusiasm are unparalleled.

"And he was the cool head I needed, because I could get a bit feisty at times."

Fagan has often been Clarkson's calming influence - and was actually the man to get between him and that 'over- enthusiastic' Port Power fan on an Adelaide street in 2015.

But, via his players he's the one now bringing the fight to their AFL rivals.

Topics:  afl brisbane lions chris fagan qclash sportopinion

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