AFL 2024; Lions coach opens up on raw grand final review

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan is hopeful an “open and honest” review of last year’s narrow grand final loss, with players delivering feedback on themselves, has paved the way for a baggage-free tilt at winning the premiership in 2024.

In the days after the heart-stopping four-point loss to Collingwood in last year’s AFL decider, Fagan said he and his coaching staff looked for lessons and “milked that for all it was worth” urging his players to get any regrets off their chest before they headed off on leave.

Keen to set about going one better in 2024 with a clear focus, Fagan went through the match with players, asked them to identify moments they believe they could have done better in, and after some made themselves “pretty vulnerable” is hopeful the lessons learned will hold them in good stead this season.

“It was a really good review. I love the fact that the players were so honest because that grand final came down to moments really,” Fagan said on Tuesday.

“I talked to the players, and I said to them, ‘Is there a moment that you’d like back?’, I went around the room, and I talked to them about the idea that there’ll be no reprisals here and that, ‘You’re humans, you’ll make mistakes and there’ll be things that you regret’.

“But it was important to talk about them before they went on leave, so they don’t carry them around for the next six months.

“I was a bit curious to know how they’d be with their honesty because we (the coaches) had gone through the tape, and we knew all the moments. But they didn’t miss one.

“They were so honest and some of them had to make themselves pretty vulnerable.

“But it was great, and in the end, I said, ‘Well, everything you just said, here it is’. We watched it on the video and that was it.”

Fagan said tweaks to their own game-style in the pre-season should make them more of a force, having won 17 of 23 home and away games last year.

But he also believes the fact he now has 23 players who have played in a grand final would make them better should they get there again.

“Our group now have played in a Grand Final,” Fagan told SEN Breakfast.

“I said to them after the Grand Final, ‘Before today, we had three blokes that have played a Grand Final, now we’ve got 23 and you’ll all be better for the experience’.

“We milked that for all it was worth in the two or three days post the Grand Final just to remember the lessons and lock them away in the vault. Hopefully, we get back and get another chance

Brisbane will being their 2024 campaign against Carlton in Opening Round at the Gabba on Friday, March 8.

Originally published as Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan hopes raw review of grand final defeat makes players better in 2024