Success may be years away and more losses could leave youngsters with mental scars but Brisbane deputy Tom Rockliff has backed coach Justin Leppitsch’s plans for the dead-last Lions.
Rockliff is no stranger to a Lions rebuilding phase.
He made his AFL debut in 2009 but has never played in an AFL final.
Three-time premiers Brisbane have finished in the top eight once since featuring in their fourth consecutive grand final in 2004.
And they don’t look like playing finals any time soon after injuries forced new coach Leppitsch to blood first year players for cellar dwellers Brisbane (1-7 record).
But Rockliff reckons Brisbane will finally get their rebuild right under Leppitsch, even if success is up to three years away.
“We’ve had opportunities in the past and probably haven’t done it (rebuild) but you can see Leppa’s intentions are two or three years down the track, not right now,” he said.
“There’s no quick-fix to it. We’re all learning a new gameplan and want to improve.
“It has been quite difficult at times to go through it but I think we’ve finally got it right and are going in the right direction.”
Asked if more losses will scar their first year players, Rockliff said: “It probably will at some stage.
“But at the moment those boys are enjoying their opportunities to play senior footy.
“They probably wouldn’t be if we were a better team, they’d be earning their stripes in the reserves.
“But you can see real improvement out of them.
“The younger boys have been probably some of our better players.”
Youngsters Nick Robertson, Darcy Gardiner and Tom Cutler have turned heads while fellow draftees James Aish and Lewis Taylor shone in Brisbane’s narrow last round loss to Essendon.
“At times you can get a bit stale especially when you’ve been here for five or six years and not winning games,” Rockliff said.
“They (youngsters) have brought a breath of fresh air for us.”