Brisbane coach Justin Leppitsch insists “competitive indicators” show the Lions are progressing despite the relentless misery of their AFL season.
Bottom of the AFL ladder and coming off what Leppitsch described as their “lowest-energy” performance of the year, the Lions face North Melbourne at the Gabba on Saturday night.
The Kangaroos have hardly set the world on fire but are strong favourites to consign the Lions to a ninth straight loss.
Yet Leppitsch is convinced his side will ultimately be better for what has been a horrific 2015, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.
“For everyone it’s a patient time,” Leppitsch said.
“Everyone knows we’ve had five retirements in the last 12 months and brought a host of young kids in.
“The beauty is the group’s been up and about.
“Whilst the wins haven’t been getting there, the competitive indicators are getting much better with every week.”
If anything, Leppitsch said his belief that Brisbane was on the right track had been strengthened as a result of this year’s troubles.
There was pre-season hope that the Lions might be able to crack the top eight after nabbing recruits Dayne Beams and Allen Christensen but it quickly faded as a dreadful injury toll took hold.
Wavering levels of commitment from within the playing group – at least on game day – haven’t helped.
Several times this year Leppitsch roasted his players after poor performances, last week describing them as “reluctant runners” following their heavy loss to Melbourne.
But Leppitsch said the upside has been the blooding of players such as Daniel McStay, Darcy Gardiner, Lewy Taylor, James Aish and Harris Andrews, who he described as the best young crop Brisbane has seen in a decade.
“The best young kids this club’s had in the last 10 years have come through in the last 18 months.
“They’re all names that are going to be around for a long period of time at the footy club.
“Having said that, we do want wins on the board as well.”