STOCKS RISING: Hawthorn assistant coach Brett Ratten shapes as a target for the Brisbane Lions if they decide to part ways with incumbent coach Justin Leppitsch.
STOCKS RISING: Hawthorn assistant coach Brett Ratten shapes as a target for the Brisbane Lions if they decide to part ways with incumbent coach Justin Leppitsch. TRACEY NEARMY

Brisbane needs to get its priorities straight

THE Brisbane Lions board has some tough decisions to make during its meeting prior to the club's final-round clash with St Kilda.

And not just what to order for lunch.

There is the matter of whether they'll approve a formal submission to the league for a priority draft pick.

And, more importantly, whether to cut ties with embattled head coach Justin Leppitsch or let him at least see out his contract, which includes the 2017 season.

The AFL assesses requests for extra draft assistance on the basis of "on-field performance in recent years and any other matter the commission regards as relevant”.

Having finished 15th, 17th and (most likely) 17th again in three years under Leppitsch, the Lions need all the help they can get.

League chief executive Gillon McLachlan certainly expects the club to hold out its hand for help.

"It's about that time - three or four weeks until the end (of the season) that it gets raised,” he said this week.

"I'm sure that Brisbane will put it on the table and we'll assess it then.”

There's no harm in asking, but it's highly unlikely the Lions will be granted another first-round pick on top of No.2 overall selection they get for finishing second-last.

Melbourne was the last to be granted a priority selection - in 2009 - which was then used on Tom Scully (now at GWS). The Demons (2014) and Carlton and Brisbane (2015) have both since been rejected.

After seeing Melbourne and Carlton turn things around without the assistance of an additional priority pick, the league may see steering the Lions in the direction of a new coach as the way to go, as opposed to the acquisition of more kids.

Leppitsch looks a broken man and it seems simply a formality that the Lions will break his contract after suffering 50 losses in 63games - the worst of which came against Adelaide last week (138 points).

The thought pattern, on the outside anyway, has certainly changed from "will he keep his job or won't he?” to "who will replace him?”.

There is the usual cast of thousands, namely two prominent assistants who have left their positions this week - Peter Sumich (Fremantle) and Brett Montgomery (Bulldogs), the latter being the AFL Coaches Association assistant of the year in 2014.

That's if the club again goes down the "untried coach” path.

Then there's Brett Ratten, who may have been sacked by Carlton in 2012 but has enjoyed a rise in stocks again thanks to spending four years with Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn.

Ratten's former right-hand man at the Blues, Mark Riley, told media this week: "Considering where he has spent the past 88 games and four finals series, he is now in the master trainer's stable. He has gone to Bart Cummings to get ready for the Melbourne Cup.”

But are the Lions simply lame or a young colt with untapped potential?



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