AFL Lions rally around captain Rockliff

Brisbane coach Justin Leppitsch and football director Leigh Matthews have scoffed at reports Tom Rockliff’s leadership style is splintering the Lions, saying he doesn’t want a wallflower for a captain.

Leppitsch rejected a report on the Nine Network’s The Footy Show last Thursday night that Rockliff’s style was causing friction.

“He’s an in your face leader demanding more. Is that bad?” Leppitsch said after Brisbane’s 87-point away loss to the Adelaide Crows on Saturday night.

“A bit like Hodgey (Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge) is in your face.

“And they ask me whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

“No, I don’t really want a wallflower as a captain.

“I’m pretty happy to have a guy that wants to drive standards – and he is not the only one, a lot do, and a lot want to get better and that is a positive at our footy club.”

Speaking on Channel Seven’s AFL Game Day, the Lions’ three-time premiership coach Matthews said Rockliff was “passionate and strong”.

“In the Lions’ situation where they’ve won three games for the year, high standards need to be set and constantly enforced,” he said.

“Everyone’s really impressed and pleased with the way Tom handles his captaincy duties.”

Leppitsch said there would always be personality clashes within teams but denied a major issue inside the Lions.

“Even back when we were winning premierships there was personality clashes, there always is,” he said.

“I think it (the report) was overstated.

“What happens when you haven’t won a lot of games is people are looking for something.

“They are pretty tight group, these boys.

“They’re frustrated, they’re not happy with three wins. But they’re also realistic on the pathway we need to go.”

With the Lions all but locked into a bottom-two finish, Matthews foresahdowed another summer of major player movement at the club.

“When you’re down the bottom, you’re rebuilding. You’ve got to say who is going to take us forward into the upper reaches of the ladder,” he said.

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