The Brisbane Lions are giving outspoken ex-player Jason Akermanis some credit for their turnaround in AFL fortunes.
A fortnight ago, in the midst of his former club’s early-season woes, the three-time Lions premiership player singled out small forward Josh Green and star recruit Allen Christensen, describing them as unfit and overweight.
On Sunday, Green and Christensen were at their line-bursting best, combining for five goals in Brisbane’s big upset win over Port Adelaide at the Gabba, easily the finest of the Justin Leppitsch era.
While Green was quick to dismiss Akermanis’ criticism, he admitted it was all the motivation he needed to return to his best and help restore the forward pressure that had been his and Brisbane’s trademark.
“I think you look at those things and make it spur you on,” Green said on Monday.
“It wasn’t factual, I didn’t really listen to it.
“He doesn’t know what my skinfolds are and my weight, so it didn’t really bother me to be honest.
“It’s made me a better player, so maybe it was the article I needed.”
But Green admits there was truth in the criticism levelled at him by Leppitsch in the wake of their Q-Clash loss to Gold Coast two weeks ago.
A seething Leppitsch didn’t name names in his post-match press conference, but he may as well have, deriding his side – and in particular, the much-vaunted ‘Mozzie Squad’ – for their inability to keep the ball inside their attacking 50.
Green said he was close to being dropped before Leppitsch had a heart-to-heart with him and Lewy Taylor, another out-of-form Lion who needed to lift.
“It was probably the kick in the guts me and Lewy needed,” he said.
“We weren’t playing our roles properly.
“We had a chat with Leppa and that’s why he’s a really good coach, he made it simple.
“Squizzy has made a move to the wing, which has been really good for him, and I’ve got back to that pressure and kicking goals.”
After back-to-back wins over Carlton and Port Adelaide, the Lions are now off the bottom of the ladder – and daring to dream.
“You can see when blokes start playing their roles, it shows we can beat some really good sides,” Green said.
“It gives us a lot of confidence.
“Anything is possible.
“If we keep playing like that we can beat most sides I reckon.”