Charlie Cameron kicks for goal during a practice game. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Charlie Cameron kicks for goal during a practice game. Picture: Zak Simmonds

How Tom Brady is inspiring Lions in 2020

Brisbane Lions senior coach Chris Fagan preaches the importance of constantly trying to improve.

Because about the only thing you can control in football is you and your effort.

The straight-shooting Fagan says there is every chance the Lions will be a better football team in 2020 compared to 2019.

But that doesn't mean they will finish with more wins that last season's breakout campaign when they rose from the competition's outhouse to penthouse.

Whatever the final win-loss ratio, Brisbane will rest in the knowledge they left no stone unturned trying to get the best out of themselves.

The Lions spent the past week in Hobart on a pre-season camp - the fourth year in a row they have headed south to Tasmania to escape Brisbane's heat and humidity and focus on leadership, team bonding and reinforcing the game plan.

 

Charlie Cameron kicks for goal during a practice game. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Charlie Cameron kicks for goal during a practice game. Picture: Zak Simmonds

 

In among training sessions, two match simulations, team meetings, lunches, dinners and golf, there was time for some table tennis and lots of cricket at the student accommodation at the University of Tasmania's Sandy Bay campus.

There was even a spot of yachting courtesy of the members at the Derwent Sailing Squadron.

There was no mistaking the genuine camaraderie within the tight-knit Lions football operation.

Not to mention the sharp focus, determination and professionalism when they hit the on-switch. Don't make the mistake of thinking the Lions will be complacent after their 2019 heroics - they mean business in 2020.

And whether it's taking a leaf from Liverpool's book and bringing game-like intensity to every training session, or highlighting that external noise means nothing compared to your own actions by showing the scathing pre-draft report then the career record of NFL legend Tom Brady, the Lions are on the never-ending quest to learn and get better.

 

Dayne Zorko playing cricket at Lions pre-season camp. Picture: Lions Media
Dayne Zorko playing cricket at Lions pre-season camp. Picture: Lions Media

 

Chris Fagan watches his players at the Lions pre-season camp in Tasmania.
Chris Fagan watches his players at the Lions pre-season camp in Tasmania.

 

Last season's finals loss to GWS is referenced but only as a teaching tool to reinforce the importance of sticking to the game style - a fast-moving and direct game style that worked.

"I thought the finals were a positive experience, other than the results,'' Fagan said.

"We played particularly well in both finals without getting a win so there was a lot that we could draw from that. What it told us is that we still need to fine-tune as a team and have that level of concentration to be able to do the right things at the right moments.

"The relationship-building work we do on this camp is really important because if you've got a really strong bond between teammates and they all understand what they are supposed to be doing at any given time, you give yourself a really good chance at success.

"Things aren't always going to be good but as long as we keep learning from it, eventually we'll get there. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.''

 

 

Whenever Fagan addresses his team, he asks a lot of questions and the players speak up. He delivers some pointed but measured feedback when required - as Ely Smith discovered in a team huddle during a match simulation after not passing to teammates - but meetings are more conversations than sermons.

"It builds leaders but also sends the message that it's not about one person. If we are going to be good, we all have to be involved. They have embraced that, they were quiet early days, but they make a lot of sense when they speak up,'' Fagan said.

He welcomes the extra eyeballs and extra pressure that will be on Brisbane in 2020.

"How you deal with it is just trying to improve and not worry about the result. Can we win 16 games again? I don't know. Not many teams do it,'' Fagan said.

"We may well be a better team this year and win 13, 14 or 15 games because there's a whole lot of other teams that are pretty good.

"But we aim to be really fit for Round 1 and our goal is to make finals.

"We know there's more expectation around us but if we want to be any good, that's just what you have to deal with.''



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