Brisbane vice-captain Daniel Rich has come under the microscope after again being silenced by a tag during Saturday’s 49-point AFL loss to West Coast.
The Lions were blown away in the second quarter by the Eagles at the Gabba, the visitors kicking seven goals to one on their way to a 20.11 (131) to 12.10 (82) victory.
The loss was the Lions’ 12th in 13 matches this season and came after an opening term when they finished just one point behind their finals-chasing opponents.
Rich picked up 13 disposals in that opening term but faded away noticeably after being tagged by Eagle Mark Hutchings, touching the ball only seven more times in the match.
It’s the third week in a row where Rich has struggled obviously under the heat of a tag.
Coming just weeks after Leppitsch had put his leaders on notice to lift their on-field performances, the display led to questions about whether the axe was about to fall on the midfielder.
“It’s something he has to overcome but we have to help him, no doubt,” Leppitsch said.
“I wouldn’t say his head’s on the block.
“He’s got a lot of credits in the bank … life’s about ticks and crosses and you build up heaps of ticks and you build up some crosses and they’ve got to weigh up together.
“He wasn’t the only one that came in and out of the game. We had some guys that were really poor in the contest.”
The Lions managed to pick up 109 more disposals than the Eagles but were ineffective for many parts of the contest, with Leppitsch describing some basic skill errors as “alarming”.
Josh Walker ended the match with four goals for the hosts while youngster Josh Schache and Irishman Pearce Hanley had two majors each.
Eagles big man Josh Kennedy kicked five goals for his second bag against the Lions this year, lifting him three clear of Lance Franklin in the Coleman Medal race.
Mark LeCras and Jack Darling picked up four majors each in a win which coach Adam Simpson described as far from perfect but welcome.
“Probably not a polished performance – the last 10 minutes, the boys looked tired,” Simpson said, adding next weekend’s bye was arriving for his squad at the right time.
“It’s been a big block of games and we’ll enjoy the time off.”