Brisbane Lions coach Justin Leppitsch has again moved to play down speculation of a mass exodus from the soon-to-be AFL wooden spooners at the end of the year.
A frustrated Leppitsch went on the front foot on Wednesday morning, telling reporters that Jack Redden, Dayne Zorko and Stef Martin will all be at the club next season, despite all three having been linked with moves away from the Gabba.
“It’s hard to actually constantly refute things because all they do, people just say ‘I hear something different’,” Leppitsch said.
“What are you going to do? Just wait for the trade period, let’s all just shut up and wait and see what happens.
“If you’re right, you’re right, if you’re not, you’re not.”
The Lions are still reeling from the so-called ‘go-home five’, a group of mostly first-round draftees who exited the club at the end of the 2013 season.
A total of 12 players have left Brisbane either by trade or free agency over the past five years.
While Leppitsch remains confident of holding onto the bulk of Brisbane’s better players, he is resigned to the fact they’ll have to develop a successor to former skipper Jonathan Brown and not bring one in from another club.
In doing so, Leppitsch effectively ruled his side out of the race for out-of-contract Gold Coast forward Charlie Dixon.
“Everyone knows we need a big, mature, key position forward but clubs don’t throw them away, they’re hard to find,” Leppitsch said.
“We’re going to develop our own and we think we’ve got a plan for that.
“A big part of our game and why it’s falling apart is our aerial work in the 50s, in the forward 50 and defensive 50. You can play as well as you like through the midfield, but if you keep losing the ball close to goal at either ends, that’s when the easy scores come in.”
The Lions are reportedly reluctant to pay over the odds for Dixon, who has a history of ankle problems and has battled some other off-field issues at the Suns this season.
Port Adelaide and Fremantle now loom as Dixon’s likely destinations next year if a new contract with the Suns can’t be settled.