Justin Leppitsch says he feels for AFL rookie Josh Schache after the Brisbane Lions missed out on the signature of Adelaide forward Josh Jenkins.
Jenkins has signed a five-year contract extension with the Crows, turning down a counter-offer from Brisbane that was reportedly worth close to $200,000 more per season.
The 27-year-old would have been the perfect figure to take the heat off first-year Lions talls Schache and Eric Hipwood, but Jenkins claims he never seriously considered leaving Adelaide, who appear set for a top-four finish this year – in stark contrast to Brisbane, who face Essendon on Sunday in a likely wooden-spoon playoff.
Leppitsch admitted luring a key forward from a rival club is not an easy task.
“We’re really happy with our young keys. It’d be great to have (an experienced) one to help out Schache and Hippy through this transitional period because they’re getting good (defenders) on them,” Leppitsch told reporters on Friday.
“I feel for Schache. He’s been getting the best player every week.
“It’d be nice to have someone else down there to help them out, but they’re not easy to get.”
Given Brisbane’s precarious state both on and off the field, it comes as no real surprise that Jenkins decided to stay put in Adelaide – but it does underline the difficulties the Lions, with the competition’s youngest list and worst facilities, face in attracting players to the club.
Leppitsch said next on his recruitment wishlist were players who could lift the pace of the team.
“We just don’t have enough depth in that part of our group, whether it be forwards or even halfbacks,” he said.
“We feel like we’ve got some capable inside players.
“Other than that, positionally we fill our holes – we just need to develop and mature.”