Justin Leppitsch feels like a first-year AFL senior coach and remains adamant Brisbane have faith in him.
Their 37-point win over Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Sunday was a huge release of pressure after weeks of growing scrutiny and speculation, especially about Leppitsch’s future.
He might have been joking with his first-year coach remark after the game, but it summed up neatly what the 20.8 (128) to 12.19 (91) win meant.
“Is that all good? Do I get a week off?,” he asked at the post-match media conference.
Leppitsch spoke at length after Sunday’s win about the relief the Lions felt after the win, his impressions of how the club was progressing and his part in their future.
It came a week after the Lions created an unwanted club record with their 12th-straight loss.
Essendon also set a club record on Sunday with their 15th loss in a row.
“I feel like I’m a first-year coach, whereas the public see me as a third-year coach,” Leppitsch said.
“That might be the difference in how we perceive each other.
“I feel the club sees me as a first-year coach, more than a third-year coach, given all I’ve done for two years is strip the list back – not a lot of coaching in that.
“But now it’s time to grab these boys and build on them, make them better.”
There was plenty of speculation about what a loss against Essendon might mean for Leppitsch’s job, but he said the only talk he had heard at the club was how they develop the team as quickly as possible.
“Everything I’ve heard has only been in that direction, so I can’t guess any other way,” he said.
“So I only get told what I’m told and I’m sure you’ve heard that 100 times before as well.
“But there’s not an inkling in my mind of any other conversation we have about ‘geez, what about your coaching?”
Leppitsch said the past few weeks had taught him that there are two games at a football club – one internal, the other external.
“The only forward for the football club is to worry about what we do internally,” he said.
“Don’t worry – if what I believe is the pathway for us doesn’t stack up, don’t worry, I wouldn’t be here, either.”
Sunday’s win put Brisbane a game clear of Essendon, who will now probably “win” the wooden spoon.
Daniel Rich had his best game of the season off half-back, captain Tom Rockliff was outstanding through the midfield and Mitch Robinson shut out Essendon playmaker David Zaharakis.
Once again, poor goal-kicking cruelled Essendon’s chances – they had three more scoring shots than Brisbane.
But coach John Worsfold said poor field kicking further up the ground was also a concern.
A bright spot for the Bombers was the debut of first-round draft pick Aaron Francis, who was among their best players.