‘We know what’s coming’: Lions on ‘razor’s edge’

AFL Rd 9 - Adelaide v Brisbane
Lions coach Chris Fagan (left) wants his players feeling ‘uncomfortable’. Picture: James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Lions coach Chris Fagan admits Brisbane’s season is on a “razor’s edge” as he braces his players for an embattled and desperate Richmond at the Gabba on Saturday night.

The Tigers – who won three premierships in four years between 2017 and 2020 – are a shadow of their former selves, having tasted victory only once in nine matches this season.

Doubts have been cast over the future of Richmond superstar Dustin Martin amid claims he has lost his passion for the game, and there have been calls for the club to move on a host of veteran players ahead of the club’s 2025 campaign.

The immense scrutiny on the Tigers, who come to the Gabba on the back of five straight losses, has made Fagan wary of a Richmond backlash this weekend.

“We know that what’s coming is a really tough game against Richmond,” Fagan said on Thursday.

“They’ve been under the blowtorch this week in Melbourne, and we all know what that’s like.

“There’s usually a response, so we know they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game. We’re going to have to be on our toes and play our ‘A’ game as well.”

AFL Rd 9 -  Richmond v Western Bulldogs
Dustin Martin’s passion for the game has been questioned with Richmond struggling. Picture: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos/via Getty Images

The Lions – last year’s beaten grand finalists – have struggled to consistently play at their best in a 2024 season that has included only three wins from nine games.

And while there remains no panic, Fagan knows his 13th-placed team needs to start winning regularly to have any hope of contending for the premiership.

“Our season’s on a razor’s edge because we lost a few early games, so every time we play is important,” he said.

“There’s still plenty of the season left to go but obviously every time we play, when you’re in our position, we want to try to achieve a win, but that’s not what we actually focus on. We focus on the process of what we need to do to get that win.

“Early in the year we were worrying too much about the result and not enough on the process, so we’ll keep narrowing our focus.”

Regardless of Brisbane’s form or ladder position, Fagan wants his players to feel “uncomfortable”.

“They’re on edge every time they play … because if you’re not, you get beaten,” he said.

“That’s where you want them to be – feeling uncomfortable. You always go better when you feel uncomfortable.”

Defender Noah Answerth is available for selection after missing last week’s draw with Adelaide due to concussion protocols.

Midfielder Dev Robertson, who had been sidelined with a shoulder injury, is also in contention to play in what will be the Lions’ last match at the Gabba until their June 14 battle with St Kilda.

“It’s our last game here for a little while so hopefully the fans can turn up and cheer us on,” Fagan said.