Leppitsch laments lack of AFL leaders

Coach Justin Leppitsch has warned under-performing experienced players will be dropped after Richmond handed his Brisbane team its second consecutive heavy AFL defeat.

Tipped pre-season as improvers, the Lions are 0-3 and coming off an 82-points thrashing by North Melbourne followed by a 79-point flogging at the hands of Richmond.

There were some excuses after the Lions faded badly at home on Saturday night.

They were 369 games short of experience with captain Tom Rockliff, vice-captain Pearce Hanley and key defender Daniel Merrett all missing through injury.

But only stand-in skipper Dayne Zorko (27 disposals, 16 handballs) and Collingwood recruit Dayne Beams (35 disposals, 20 kicks and seven tackles) could hold their heads high.

“Our leadership is down without Pearce (Hanley) and Rocky (Rockliff) who are probably our two strongest leaders so that doesn’t help,” Leppitsch said.

“People don’t realise which are the ones within your team who are the spiritual types – and those two are – so that really leaves a lot to others.

“I thought Dayne (Beams) was terrific in trying to spark the team, but there’s not enough others that want to jump in along the journey and be part of it.”

Despite the lopsided scoreboard, the Tigers and Lions shared even numbers across a variety of statistics including contested possessions, tackles, handballs and clearances.

However, the Lions struggled to find a forward target, taking only six marks inside 50 compared to Richmond’s 23.

The omission of key tall Matthew Leuenberger and injuries to Michael Close and Jonathan Freeman left the Lions short of options inside their forward 50.

Debutant Harris Andrews and small forward Josh Green toiled hard but lack of match experience cost them dearly, according to Leppitsch.

“You put (younger players) in situations that they have got to keep getting exposed to (in order) to overcome. There’s that excuse for some, for others there’s no excuses and that’s where our team is at,” he said.

“There’s others that will find themselves out of the team because they’ve been around long enough to know better, and there’s others who haven’t, so we’ll try and persist with them.

“Maybe some of those kids might need a run back (in reserves) for their confidence sake as well.”

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick, who worked with Leppitsch for four seasons at the Tigers, believes Brisbane’s inexperienced cubs will learn to roar.

“In fairness both sides have been going through rebuilding stages,” Hardwick said.

Leppa’s got some terrific young talent that will come through in the next two to three years.

“We’re probably two to three years in front of those guys but they’re going to be a good side.”

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