Chris Fagan breaks silence over Hawthorn saga: 'Clear conscience'

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan is pictured at a press conference before the club commences pre-season training.
Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan faced a press conference for the first time since being implicated in historical allegations of racist treatment of players at Hawthorn. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan says he has returned to his post with a 'clear conscience' as the AFL prepares to begin an investigation into claims of racism at Hawthorn, where the 61-year-old was an assistant coach. He, along with former head coach Alastair Clarkson and former head of player development Jason Burt, were implicated in an internal review conducted by Hawthorn and faced public accusations from those who contributed to it.

After a stepping down voluntarily for several weeks, Fagan has returned to the Lions in preparation for pre-season training. On Monday he faced questions from media about the saga for the first time.

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Fagan said he had been rattled in the aftermath of the allegations being aired, but maintained he had done nothing wrong, and would gladly co-operate with the AFL's upcoming investigation. He added that he did not feel as though it was a subject he needed to discuss with Lions players.

"Probably the first couple of weeks (I struggled), not really knowing whether it was OK to walk down the street or not," he told a press conference. "But after a while, I realised we can't live like that. So I've just been living normally since that point.

"I've got a very clear conscience. They say a clear conscience is the best sedative and I'm sleeping well."

The allegations against Hawthorn and some of its coaching staff between 2005 and 2021 were first aired in the days after Brisbane's preliminary final loss to Geelong. The pre-season session on Monday was the first time Brisbane players have gathered since then.

Though he said he had spoken to a handful of players individually, Fagan maintained he did not feel the need to discuss the situation with the broader playing group. He said that he held the trust of the players.

"I've worked with them for six years. And they trust me, they trust me. So there's been no need for a conversation," he said. "I know everyone's really interested in my thoughts on it, and I respect that, but you also have to respect the fact that it's going to remain private until ... the investigation is over."

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Vice-captain Harris Andrews said the Lions believed in their coach's innocence, given Fagan's track record since arriving in Brisbane in 2017.

"We can only go off what we've experienced with Fages and he's been nothing but a great figure," he said. "To create an environment where so many players want to come and join the club is exciting for us.

"He's been such a great leader at that footy club and someone that we all really love to be around."

Chris Fagan embraces a Brisbane Lions player.
Chris Fagan returned to his post as Brisbane Lions coach after the club's board approved him ending his voluntary stand down period. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Fagan said he had not contemplated resigning during his voluntary stand down period and that he signed a confidentiality agreement last Friday ahead of the investigation, which is yet to begin. It remains to be seen when the findings of the AFL investigation will be handed down.

"We all thought it was going to be over by Christmas time but it'll go longer than that," Fagan said. "I'm just patiently waiting for my opportunity to speak at the investigation.

"You'd like it to happen sooner rather than later. But I've got to be patient. We'll just wait and see what the investigation reveals."

With AAP

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