A laidback approach has helped the Brisbane Lions regroup ahead of new senior coach Justin Leppitsch’s maiden season with the reins in 2014.
The same laidback attitude that revitalised the Australian cricket team appears to have been adopted by new Brisbane coach Justin Leppitsch ahead of his maiden AFL season with the Lions reins.
Happy-go-lucky Australian cricket coach Darren “Boof” Lehmann’s “keep it simple” approach has been credited with being the catalyst to a 5-0 Ashes whitewash this summer.
And it seems Leppitsch’s attitude has been no different as he looks to kick-start a Brisbane revival in 2014.
Leppitsch had the unenviable task of taking over from former mentor Michael Voss after a messy boardroom battle and the departure of five young guns reportedly due to homesickness.
Veteran utility Brent Staker was one of the few players Leppitsch was able to talk into staying in Brisbane in the off-season, knocking back overtures from Carlton.
And Staker reckons he is sure glad he did after seeing Leppitsch in action.
“It’s been a gruelling pre season but it’s been really upbeat with a changing of the guard with Leppa coming in,” he said.
“I would say it’s a lot more relaxed.
“There were some similarities because Leppa and Vossy were teammates.
“But while he (Leppitsch) is very structured he keeps if fun and relaxed – the guys don’t feel on edge.”
Leppitsch’s first order of business was ensuring the entire squad travelled to a pre-season camp in Arizona – not just the handful of senior players that had attended altitude training in the past.
Staker believed it was the right call after an off-season exodus in which Billy Longer (St Kilda), Jared Polec (Port Adelaide), Sam Docherty (Carlton), Elliot Yeo (West Coast) and Patrick Karnezis (Collingwood) all left.
“I think he made the right decision. We all bonded on the trip,” Staker said.
It seems Staker has taken a leaf out of Leppitsch and Lehmann’s book after three injury-interrupted seasons.
Since his standout first year at the club in 2010, Staker has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament twice.
He bounced back from yet another injury to play the last 15 games of 2013.
“Because there have been so many setbacks, last year was about having fun and I think I will take the same approach in 2014,” said Staker who recently re-signed for another two seasons.