Brisbane coach Chris Fagan has bucked the trend and boldly declared 2023 is now his side’s “best opportunity” to win the premiership.
Instead of taking the traditional one-game at a time approach we’ve seen from fellow AFL coaches, Fagan says his side are going all-in this campaign, starting at home in Saturday’s qualifying final against Port Adelaide.
When asked by On the Couch host Garry Lyon if he was “feeling or acknowledging this is your best chance?”, Fagan was completely honest in his response.
Watch every game until the Grand Final of the 2023 Toyota AFL Premiership Season LIVE on Kayo Sports. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
“Yeah I think we have to,” he replied.
“That group of young players that started playing finals three or four years ago – guys like (Hugh) McCluggage, (Jarrod) Berry, (Brandon) Starcevich, (Zac) Bailey, (Cam) Rayner … they are all mature AFL players now in their sixth or seventh years.
“I think with the improvement and maturity of those guys and the men we’ve recruited to the club, I think this is our best opportunity without doubt.
ULTIMATE FINALS FORMGUIDE: Every AFL team’s biggest strength, weakness… and player who must lift
“We won 17 games this year which is the best we’ve ever done.
“The ladder doesn’t lie I don’t think.”
Fagan said despite his side making finals the past four years but not reaching the ultimate grand final, his players remain confident.
“You look at it an holistic way just to say we’ve had nine opportunities over the last four years and we’ve saluted in three of them,” he said.
“We weren’t able to win six other finals.
“You talk about that – you face up to it. Talk about the lessons that you’ve learnt and understand that these opportunities don’t keep coming along.
“Our players are really clear on that and very keen to do as well as we can from here.
“I’m just a great believer in all those experiences harden you and prepare you to produce your best in September. We’ve played nine finals now and I think our boys are at that stage and I’m sensing that at training and conversations at the club and they’ve really matured.
Suns still won’t make Finals in 2024? | 01:19
“I think they are very much looking forward to and craving the opportunity to put their best foot forward in finals.
“We’ve never been in a better position, I don’t think.”
The Lions could have the ultimate passage through to the grand final this year, having finished second for the third time in five seasons.
Should they defeat the Power on Saturday, the Lions wouldn’t have to leave Brisbane until a potential grand final date.
And remarkably, that would mean their two key finals are at a ground they’re yet to taste defeat at in 2023 – their Gabba fortress.
Fagan said the influx of run off half back was something taking the club a step forward compared to previous seasons.
Joey accidentally spoils Greene’s AA nod | 00:41
“At times in the past we’ve probably been a little bit slow in our defence … the addition of (Darcy) Wilmot, (Keidean) Coleman and Jaspa Fletcher have really helped in that regard,” he said.
“I think we’re a better all-round team because of it.”
The Lions will take on Port Adelaide from 7.25pm on Saturday night at the Gabba.