A rev-up from AFL great Leigh Matthews has inspired the Brisbane Lions to ignore external murmurs of discontent and stay the course.
That’s the word from first-year defender Harris Andrews, who says the playing group has fully bought into the three-time premiership coach’s rallying call to the entire Lions club on Wednesday.
Matthews, Brisbane’s current director of football, preached a message of patience to players and staff, promising their short-term pain would be worth the long-term gain.
“It was really good,” Andrews told reporters on Thursday.
“As Leigh put it yesterday, a bit of change is going to be needed around the club.
“What everyone wants to do is we all want to improve. He just stated that it’s going to take a bit of time to change.
“We’re all young… (and) as a young fella you’re happy to take your time and progress slowly.”
Andrews, 18, embodies the future of the Lions. The local Brisbane product has penned a two-year contract extension that will keep him at the club until the end of 2018.
It’s a significant coup as Brisbane continues to fight off advances from rival clubs for some of their key players – and it comes on the back of a week in which the Lions – uncompetitive and bordering on irrelevant at times this year – finally bared their teeth.
The furious reaction of the playing group to criticism of captain Tom Rockliff’s leadership style looked like a watershed moment from the outside, and Andrews said the controversy had brought the club closer.
“The way the media’s going at us has been a little bit unfair,” he said.
“These are the blokes you go to training with every day, they’re good mates of mine.
“It is hard to see that but it only unites us even more.”