AFL 2024: Brisbane coach Chris Fagan adamant player harmony remains strong

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan has rejected talk of “disharmony” among his playing group that will adopt a siege mentality in their bid to find form after three successive losses to start the season.

The poor start has been further compounded by reports of a rift in the playing group due to incidents that took place on an end-of-season trip to the US last year and suggestions it has impacted the form of last year’s grand finalists.

Players and club officials have been adamant the team bond is as strong as ever, with Fagan on Wednesday backing his ability to judge “social interactions” and his good relationship with players to make a sound judgment on any breakdowns.

“They’ve been a happy group all pre-season is all I can say,” Fagan said ahead of his team’s clash with battlers North Melbourne in Friday’s Gather Round clash at Norwood Oval that could help them kickstart their season.

“I think I’m a pretty good judge of how social interactions (and) relationships are going with team members.

“Probably that’s one of my strengths, so I’ve seen no evidence of any disharmony, which was what was suggested.”

Fagan made no apologies about last season’s beaten grand finalists using the “outside noise” as motivation to turn their season around.

“All clubs do that all the time when you’re under the pump, so we’ll be no different to that,” he said.

“At the end of the day, all we’ve got is each other, so we’ll just be working hard at trying to get back to being the best version of ourselves this weekend.

“I always believe in moving towards the obstacles, not away from them. Don’t dodge anything, accept full responsibility for the way things are going, myself included, and just get on with it.

“That’s the best way to live your life because not everything goes perfectly. This group have been on top of their game for a long time.

“The last time we lost three games in a row (during the regular season) was back in 2018. That is a long time. We’ve been a very consistent group and we’ve hit a little bump in the road right now, but you’ve got to have some fun trying to work your way through it and know and have confidence that eventually we’ll get there.”

Fagan defended the form of forward Eric Hipwood, who had a poor game in Brisbane’s 20-point home loss to Collingwood last Thursday.

“He was definitely below his best the other night,” the Lions coach said.

“He kicked three against Fremantle, which was decent. He was reasonable against Carlton and he had a really good pre-season, so he’s had one bad game.

“It was a bad game, but it was one bad game.”

Lions co-captain Lachie Neale trained on Wednesday at Springfield and is expected to play against the Kangaroos despite injuring his ankle in the loss to the Magpies.

Fagan promised the Lions wouldn’t underestimate the Kangaroos, who have also started their season with three straight losses.

“We can’t assume just because it’s North Melbourne that we’re going to get a victory,” he said.

“We need to play a lot better than we’ve been playing.”

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