Fagan’s plan to ‘toughen up’ Lions
BRISBANE Lions coach Chris Fagan is willing to roll the dice and risk injury to "toughen up" the young Lions.
The Lions trained strongly for about three hours at the University of Tasmania Stadium, Launceston with full contact drills including an at-times spiteful and heated 12-a-side match simulation in a condensed field.
Boom recruit Luke Hodge could be heard directing traffic in the backline, while Tasmanian product Mitch Robinson buzzed around half forward tackling and agitating with intent.
But the willing session came at a cost with Claye Beams (knee) forced off the field with a minor medial ligament injury.
Superboot Daniel Rich also jarred his thumb but completed the session.
"It's a risky way to train in a way because you can get injuries doing it but the only way to toughen up and get better and improve your technique is to put yourselves in that situation more often," Fagan said.
"We have to (take a risk) because you can't imagine your way into improving your contested ball - you just got to get out there and practice it and improve your technique.
"Their (players) attitude has been fantastic, their want to improve and to earn the respect of the competition.
"You get the feeling with the way that they've turned up this pre-season they want to continue on that pathway."
The Lions were smashed at stoppage, especially in the first half of the season, allowing opposition teams to move the ball freely into attack.
But contested bulls Dayne Beams and Dayne Zorko should get help next season with young guns Cameron Rayner and Hugh McCluggage pushing for opportunity, while flankers Nick Robertson, Robinson and Allen Christensen also expected to run through the middle.
"We've probably ramped up a fair bit this year the competitive side of our training," Fagan said.
"We feel that's a part of the game that we need to get better at.
"We haven't been great at contested ball as a footy club for about five or six years.
"We need to win more contested ball so we can supply it to our forward line more regularly and not have to defend so many inside 50s again."