The pressure is still very much on Justin Leppitsch despite the Brisbane Lions coach’s new one-year contract extension.
Leppitsch is now tied to the Lions until the end of the 2017 AFL season – but just because his future is assured, doesn’t mean the blowtorch turns away.
“There’s always pressure, no matter what happens,” Leppitsch told reporters on Tuesday.
“Someone commented the other day about our difficult start and how that’s going to be difficult, and then I spoke to some teams who have a softer start and they said ‘jeez, but if we don’t win them, we’re going to be under pressure.’
“The pressure’s always there. That’s just the game, we’re playing at the highest level. You’ve got to rise above it.”
After two lean years in which his position was under constant speculation, this is a new kind of pressure for Leppitsch – the expectation that his immensely-talented squad fulfils its potential under his guidance.
Brisbane has made a whopping 34 list changes over the past three summers and there is an overwhelming sense at the club that the building blocks for their next premiership are now in place, with experience the only thing missing.
Leppitsch conceded there are “no excuses” for the Lions, having met their recruiting needs and made some key off-field signings, including the highly-rated husband-and-wife welfare team of Craig and Melissa Lambert.
“It’s always a combination of factors why a club slowly gets better. That’s why the club’s confident now, with the stability and direction we’re going,” he said.
“The beauty is we’re only going to go up from here.
“We’ve got the talent we can persist with, and the coaches, the club and the gameplan and I’m really confident on that.”