Justin Leppitsch believes he still has the support of Brisbane Lions football director Leigh Matthews but admits he doesn’t know if he’ll be coach of the AFL club next year.
Leppitsch’s future is again in the spotlight after a report this week from Fairfax Media, which claimed he would be sacked at the end of the season – despite being contracted to the end of 2017 – and that Matthews would also step down from his role on the club’s board.
Matthews appeared to soften his backing of Leppitsch when speaking to Adelaide radio station 5AA on Wednesday night, imitating Hogans Heroes character Sargent Schultz when asked if he would stay on as coach by saying: “I know nothing.”
Leppitsch said he had only heard “snippets” of the interview but rated the strength of his relationship with Matthews as a nine out of 10.
“It’s hard to know. All I know is when I speak to the man,” Leppitsch told reporters on Thursday.
“We’ve always been strong. We can have straight conversations, Leigh and I. Some people can’t. That’s what I love about him. We’re always talking.
“What the public perceive him and his actions to be, I don’t know.
“The only thing I can tell you is the conversations we’ve had and he’s been very supportive and up front.”
Lions chairman Bob Sharpless confirmed earlier this month that Leppitsch’s job would come under review at year’s end.
The same Fairfax report also claimed Leppitsch was “coming to the realisation” he would not stay on as coach but was evasive when asked if that was the case.
“I know nothing. That’s really it,” he said.
“If there’s stuff going on in the background, maybe you guys know more than me.
“I’m just really here to coach the team, coach this week and get another win. I’m contracted next year, that’s all I’m going to do.
“If there’s other things that are happening… what will be will be.”
Leppitsch also said he wasn’t surprised by Matthews’ declaration that he would put the health of the club before any individual when making major footballing decisions.
“I remember he wouldn’t even give me a retirement game. Leigh’s always been about the team and what’s best in that particular week, and I know that and that’s what I love about Leigh – his honest nature,” he said.
“He’s up front in an industry where there’s not a lot of people like that.”