Fagan reveals impact of racism talks

Lions Fans Fest
New recruit Tom Doedee has suffered another ACL injury. Picture Lachie Millard

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan has dismissed concerns his involvement in conciliation talks over the Hawthorn racism scandal had further disrupted the Lions’ preparations for Thursday night’s grand final rematch that were rocked by Tom Doedee’s shattering knee injury.

Fagan was in Melbourne on Tuesday for sessions at the Human Rights Commission when off-season recruit Doedee suffered a partial tear to his right knee’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) that he ruptured in June last year.

Unable to go into detail about the conciliation talks, Fagan said he had become accustomed to switching focus when required since he was named in the racism saga in September 2022, and the showdown with Collingwood was big enough to demand his full attention.

“Conciliation continues. All of us that participated have agreed to keep everything pretty much in house,” Fagan said

“If there is a point in time where I can talk about it, I will, but for now I’ve just got to let it be and let the process work.

AFL Rd 1 - Fremantle v Brisbane
Lions coach Chris Fagan has been involved in conciliation talks. Picture: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images

“I’ve been doing that for a long time. It’s been about 18 months, so I’m well practised. I just focus on what needs to be focused on at any given time.

“It hasn’t been easy at times, but that’s the way I’ve done it. I’ve had great support from the club, great support from my family, my wife has been brilliant … you need all that because there have been times when it’s been pretty tough. I’m only human.”

As is Doedee, who was set to make his first AFL appearance for the Lions against Collingwood in the Gabba showdown after returning to football last Saturday in Brisbane’s VFL team after a 10-month absence.

“I had a good conversation with him (on Tuesday) night. Him and his family have been through a few things in their lives. He was pretty stoic,” Fagan said.

“The guy’s worked so hard to get back to play. He’s been in full training now for six or seven weeks.

“We were looking forward to having him in our team. Unfortunately, that’s not going to be the case this year, but that’s the reality of football.”

Since July last year three Lions players – Will Ashcroft, Keidean Coleman and now Doedee – have suffered ACL injuries.

“I’ve never seen a strike rate like that. I hope it stops, (but) this is the game. You’ve got deal with it, and we will,” Fagan promised.

The Lions and the Magpies – who beat Brisbane by four points in the 2023 decider – will both chase their first wins of the season on Thursday night.

“It’s going be a fierce contest. Two pretty desperate teams who played off in a grand final thriller last year,” Fagan said.

The Brisbane coach said his side had received a “wake-up call” in starting its season with successive losses to Carlton and Fremantle.

“It’s probably human nature when you lose a grand final by not much that sometimes all you can think about is getting back there and trying to make up for it,” Fagan said.

“Our players aren’t ill disciplined or poor human beings for thinking that way. It’s natural … (but) I’ll be amazed if we’re not back in the moment (on Thursday).

“Whether that’ll be good enough for us to win, who knows? It’s two good teams playing against each other in the same position.

“It’s probably the same conversation they’re having at Collingwood this week.”