Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch has bemoaned the shifting goalposts on his AFL coaching future as he confronts possible unemployment.
The three-time premiership winner with Brisbane has led the club for three years and a total of just 14 wins.
The Lions bottomed out in 2016 with three victories, avoiding the wooden spoon by half a percentage point, and recording the worst season in the merged club’s 20-year history.
Leppitsch said his assessment of the season was “what could go wrong did go wrong” including an “unprecedented” injury run.
But he maintains it would be unfair, and against the club’s previous word, to assess him purely on his win-loss record.
“The messaging (from the club) throughout the year has been long-term … apart from three weeks ago,” he said.
“(My job) has been to introduce and play young talent which we’re AFL No.1 at … that coupled with our injury rate doesn’t equate to successful seasons.
“Every moment before (three weeks ago there) hasn’t been a win-loss component to me keeping my job but obviously things have shifted.”
Leppitsch said he would have coached differently with different goals.
“If it was win-loss this year I would have traded the first pick,” he said.
“We actually traded for future picks this year. I wouldn’t have done that either.”
Furthering his case to stay, he pointed to the emergence of first-year players Eric Hipwood, Josh Schache, Ben Keays and Rhys Matheson.
“I don’t think most clubs can say they could do that in one year and it’s going to be hard for those boys to get a game next year when the likes of (Allen) Christensen and (Dayne) Beams are back,” he said.
Leppitsch said he wasn’t aware if his side claimed the wooden spoon until he was asked a question in the post-match press conference.
“It might be better for the club if we did (finish last),” he said.
“It doesn’t sound good to say that but you can probably do a few more things at the end of the year.
“No one even thought about it to be perfectly honest … we’ve got some bigger picture things to worry about than that as a football club.”