Home / Health / Justin Leppitsch can 'absolutely' lead Brisbane Lions back, says Simon Black

Justin Leppitsch can 'absolutely' lead Brisbane Lions back, says Simon Black


Outgoing Brisbane Lions assistant coach Simon Black says Justin Leppitsch can drive the club back up the ladder next year if afforded the chance to see out the final year of his contract.

But club great Black, whose almost two decades of full-time involvement with the Lions will end after Sunday’s match against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium, has urged Brisbane to stop making excuses for their lack of success.

Simon Black is leaving the Brisbane Lions to concentrate on his academy.
Simon Black is leaving the Brisbane Lions to concentrate on his academy. Photo: Paul Jeffers

Black, 37, has been an assistant at the Lions since retiring at the end of 2013, but it was announced earlier this month he would not continue in the role next year, instead opting to focus on his expanding business – The Simon Black Academy – which provides footballers of any level the opportunity to improve their game while also gaining business, fitness and leadership education.

Black’s first seven years at the club yielded six finals appearances and three premierships, but the Lions have made the top eight just once in the past 12 years. As well as enduring various off-field issues, including dwindling crowds and the lack of a desirable training base, the Lions have won just three games this season, leaving Leppitsch squarely in the gun.

Third-year coach Leppitsch said on Friday he was uncertain if he would be allowed to continue next year, with the Lions board having tentatively planned a meeting for early in the week, at which his fate may be sealed.

Brownlow medallist Black said it had been a trying year for his triple-premiership teammate but that Leppitsch had “held up well”.

“He’s very tough and resilient,” Black told Fairfax Media.

“At times you see his body language a bit slumped and so forth. I know as a coaching group we’ve tried to get around him.

“He has stayed strong.

“In some respects it’s been very very unfortunate. This year’s been very hard to coach.”

The Lions have been hit by injuries to key players Dayne Beams, Allen Christensen, Daniel McStay, Tom Rockliff and Tom Bell, but Black said their fortunes could improve quickly next year under Leppitsch.

“Yep absolutely,” Black said.

“I think so. I do.”

Black said there were deeper-rooted issues at the Lions. “We’ve been a club of a lot of excuses lately, and that’s been pretty poor, to be honest,” he said.

“There’s a difference between getting thumped and being competitive. Too many times this year we haven’t been competitive.”

Black said he was emotional to be leaving the club that has been his home since arriving from Western Australia in the 1997 national draft.

“[I’m] sad to leave, but excited at the same time about the new venture to put my time into,” he said.

“I made it [the decision] because we’re looking to grow the academy next year. My name’s obviously attached to the academy. It’s only right that I’m present and, with the assistant coaching role, it’s pretty demanding time-wise. I wouldn’t be able to get around to the academies if I didn’t step aside.

“It’s been tough because it would be tough to leave when you’re on top, but when you’re down the bottom like we are it’s disappointing too. So that’s been the hard part. But there’s always a silver lining. I got to work with some young guys this year – Ben Keays and Rhys Mathieson – and that’s been enjoyable as well.”

Black said the Lions had told him they would have given him a position next year if he wanted one.

Black was at Melbourne’s Exhibition Centre on Saturday promoting the academy at a careers expo. The academy will expand from three centres this year to up to eight next year, including one in Geelong coached by three-time premiership Cat David Wojcinski. Black said he was happy with the way the program had gone so far.

“The feedback from the students and from the footballers that have taken part … they’ve really enjoyed the program. It’s a good mix of football … and there’s the education with the business, and the cert III and V of fitness, and there’s the leadership and personal development space, which is probably the part I’ve enjoyed the most, trying to give the kids some direction and some pathways going forward. It’s great to see their footy really improve. Their footy’s really improved.

“It’s been a really positive concept.”



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