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'Milked it for all it was worth': Grand Final loser's unique approach to moving on

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13th February, 2024
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Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan has lauded his players for being “vulnerable” in dealing with their heartbreaking AFL grand final defeat.

In his first extended interview since the four-point loss against Collingwood in last year’s decider, Fagan opened up about what Brisbane learned from falling agonisingly short of their first premiership since 2003.

Unlike clubs in the past who have admitted to never watching back a painful grand final loss, the Lions thoroughly reviewed the match before going on their off-season break.

“We milked that for all it was worth in the two or three days post the grand final just to remember the lessons and lock them away in the vault,” Fagan told SEN on Tuesday.

Lachie Neale of the Lions looks dejected after the 2023 AFL Grand Final match between Collingwood Magpies and Brisbane Lions at Melbourne Cricket Ground, on September 30, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Lachie Neale of the Lions looks dejected after the 2023 AFL Grand Final match between Collingwood Magpies and Brisbane Lions. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

“I love the fact that the players were so honest because that grand final came down to moments really.”

The Lions reclaimed the lead through a Charlie Cameron goal with just five minutes remaining, putting Brisbane in reach of pinching the flag.

But some crucial moments in the dying minutes allowed the Magpies to hit back and win one of the greatest grand finals in VFL/AFL history.

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“I said to them, ‘Is there a moment that you’d like back?’, I went around the room, and I talked to them about the idea that there’ll be no reprisals here and that, ‘You’re humans, you’ll make mistakes and there’ll be things that you regret’,” Fagan said.

“But it was important to talk about them before they went on leave, so they don’t carry them around for the next six months.

“I was a bit curious to know how they’d be with their honesty because we (the coaches) had gone through the tape, and we knew all the moments. But they didn’t miss one.

“They were so honest and some of them had to make themselves pretty vulnerable.

“But it was great, and in the end, I said, ‘Well, everything you just said, here it is’.”

Brisbane are primed to be even better in 2024 after the recruitment of Adelaide defender Tom Doedee, and the return of young gun Will Ashcroft from a serious knee injury.

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Both players are coming off anterior cruciate ligament surgery, but Doedee is expected to make his Lions debut between rounds two and four.

Ashcroft hurt his knee in a round-19 win against Geelong last year and is more likely to be back on the field during the middle of this season.

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