Brisbane coach Chris Fagan spoke to the media after his side’s shock loss to St Kilda…
Q: Firstly what is the latest on Eric Hipwood?
A: The medical staff believe that it is an ACL injury. It is unfortunate. It’s the worst. It didn’t seem much of an incident. It is the second ACL this year at this ground. Cam Rayner had one earlier in the year. That is a pretty savage blow to Eric and the club. At this point of the season he is a really important player for us. We will have to lick our wounds on that one and try and find another tall key position forward. It is an opportunity for a Connor Ballenden or a Tommy Fullarton to step up.
Q: ‘Savage’ is your word there Chris. They are difficult to overcome 204cm guys. How different will it be to replace Eric?
A: It will be challenging. Those two boys have been waiting in the wings for quite some time now. They’ll look forward to that challenge and then respond to that challenge. I’m so disappointed for Eric because he puts a lot of time and effort into his football. I am also excited for those boys who have been sort of working hard behind the scenes to get an opportunity. That’s what it requires. Everybody has injuries. So you have to deal with it.
Q: It was only three-quarters of evidence, I guess, and you were probably outplayed in a number of areas. You just looked a little bit disjointed going forward. Do you think it took the team maybe a little while to adjust only having two big forwards instead of three, or just that change in combination?
A: Maybe. I haven’t had a chance to ask them. It is not an excuse for losing the game. We got beaten in the contest, I thought. I thought their pressure was better than ours. If you look at the inside 50s , we only had 43. We didn’t get the usual supply that we get. We average normally around 55, 56 per game. Credit to the Saints for the way that they won the ball, for their pressure which was outstanding. And they defended the field really well. Can’t use Eric’s injury as an excuse I’m afraid.
Q: What about Starcevich? He seemed to bump his head on the fence. How is he at the moment?
A: I am not really sure about that one. It wasn’t concussion as much as he felt his neck was a bit sore. We will know a little bit more about that in the next few days.
Q: Chris, what’s your movements from here? When are you able to get home? Are you able to get home straight tonight?
A: So from midnight tonight I think that we are OK to go back to Brisbane. And our players, some will go back tonight and some will head back tomorrow morning. Is my understanding.
Q: Do you just put this down to a flat performance, Chris? You have obviously played a really
high level of footy for much of the last 11 matches and tonight looked a little bit down. Do you just put it down to one of those nights? Or do you think it is a bit deeper than that?
A: It wouldn’t make any sense to overreact. If you look at home and away wins over the last three seasons, we’ve won more games in home and away footy than any other team. It has been a hallmark of ours. I feel like we played poorly in round 1. I feel like we played poorly tonight, which is round 17. And in between I think that we have been very, very competitive. Even the loss against Melbourne we played terrific football that night. Should have been further in front at half-time and we weren’t. They were terrific after half-time. We got to cut our guys a little bit of slack. It is not a pattern. They have always been able to bounce back after disappointment. That is what we will be looking forward to do next week.
One of the lighter moments of the day came at the MCG when Dangerfield and Betts shared a little moment…
St Kilda coach Brett Ratten spoke to the media after his side’s victory…
Q: You are on a roll now. How do you rate that performance against one of the premiership contenders?
A: It is very pleasing to keep them to roughly 42 inside 50s when they average 57. Something that we knew we were going to be tested defensively. But I thought we did a really good job to turn the ball
over through the midfield. The other bit that was probably really good for us was our younger players. I think a bit of a snapshot of the future with Max King’s performance which we know and he has played a lot of footy. Ryan Byrnes, Tom Highmore, Leo Connolly they got more exposure, maybe through a little bit of adversity this year. They have done really well which is pleasing for the future.
Q: What has been the catalyst behind the turnaround in the last month? Is it as simple as you getting your best players back on the park now?
A: That always helps. Yeah, it always helps. I think after the Adelaide loss and we were doing some things before that anyway but it probably allows you to reset and take a breath and come back and really work out what we want to be as a football team. Knowing that there was 8-9 games left in the season and how is it going to shape for us? It was about us as a team and what we wanted to do. That has been the… The ability to take a breath has helped us a bit.
Q: Brett, would you rate that your best performance of 2021 so far given that you are up against a premiership contender and they came at you hard at the start of the third quarter and you managed to respond really well? Would you rate that arguably your best win of the year?
A: Yes, I would. I think we’ve won some games. But it hasn’t gone for the four quarters that we have been after. I think against the quality of the opposition that Brisbane are, yeah, I think it was our best performance so far this year.
Q: It’s hard to pick your best players tonight Brett. There was so many across the board. Your skipper in the last quarter, probably not a surprise to you. What about Jack’s performance?
A: His tackle numbers and his ability to win the ball. He has been really leading from the front. I thought that Dunstan’s role tonight was pretty good as well. He shut Jarryd Lyons right out of the game, which was good. They had to move Lyons. Actually pointed it out, there was a lot of good players for us all over the ground. When you look at our back seven they played well. Jack Sinclair and Brad Hill. Dougal Howard and Callum Wilkie and that. Across the ground guys played their role really well. There has been a fair bit of growth in Daniel McKenzie this year that got the opportunity to play. He is playing well as well.
Q: What does Max King having the better of a guy like Harris Andrews do for you guys and do for his teammates do you think?
A: I think when you have a performance like that from younger men against some very good players of the competition, Andrews is an All-Australian, multiple All-Australian. Even Byrnes, he has played on Daniel Rich, who is a very good player. I think that they get a little shot of confidence. I think that we will look at it and say that King’s three goals that he kicked but he set one up to Kent. He created so many contests when he was outnumbered and got the ball to ground and our smalls really came into the game. I was really pleased with his work as were the other coaches as well. He doesn’t have to win the ball Max and everyone looks saying he didn’t kick five, six or seven but his ability to halve the contest and give us another look is really critical.
Q: You had lots of good players and Jimmy Webster on Charlie Cameron, kept Cameron to five touches especially with Hipwood going down and to shut out Cameron it was an outstanding effort?
A: He has had big roles this year Webster. He has played on really dangerous forwards. Last week was Jamie Elliott, Jordan De Goey down there at times. He has had big jobs and stood up and played on Dusty Martin two weeks ago. He has done really good jobs for us. And he is in good form. It is good to see a player that has had some interruption with injury and didn’t get the continuity that he was after. To get out there now and show everyone what he can do, I think it is really pleasing.
Q: Brett, do you feel like you have teeth into the season now, that you can make a bit of noise in the final six or seven weeks and hopefully beyond?
A: Yeah. Well, it is really for us to keep building in consistency. We have had a very checkered first half of the year. It’s been even games that we won or we just had lapses in games. We will just keep chipping away. I don’t want to sound boring or anything, but that is the reality for us. Even last week against the Pies to just… That last five or six minutes of the game to concede four or five goals. We will have to keep plugging away and make sure that in that space we are fulfilling our obligation to our teammates at the footy club and our supporters.
Here’s some more reaction to the Saints’ brilliant victory over Brisbane…
Hawthorn legend Luke Hodge spoke to Channel Seven about the Hawks’ controversial coaching handover between Alastair Clarkson and Sam Mitchell…
Q: One of the biggest stories of the year, your coach the four-time premiership coach is going to hand over the reins in 12 months’ time to Sam Mitchell. What did you make of that?
A: Collingwood asking Sam to go through the process to being a coach, I think that might have fast-tracked what Hawthorn wanted to do. When ‘Mitch’ had to get past on for Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara coming in they could see the next 10 years as a head coach was probably going to be Sam. ‘Clarko’ has been fantastic for the football club. They are looking for the next 10 years and if ‘Mitch’ can deliver what they hope he can then that transition will be quite smooth. A lot of people are saying, “Is ‘Clarko’ going to be there next year?” There are 1.2 million reasons why ‘Clarko’ will be coaching next year with the footy soft cap. They can’t afford to pay people out these days. ‘Clarko’ has coached 383 games and four premierships and bring up his 400th game as coach next year would be an amazing effort and something I hope that he stays and does.
Q: I heard him speak about the sacrifices you make with your friends and family. I felt for a moment there maybe he wanted to have a year off. Do you think at the end of the next year he will be hungry to coach or have some time off and assess things and go from there?
A: People say with players, “I want to give more time with my family when I retire.” Coaches do more than that. I can understand that. He is a man of his word. He has a contract there for next year. I think it will help Sam as well. If Sam will continue to coach Box Hill and more time coaching his own team before he steps up, better for Sam and the football club. I personally hope he stays and coaches one more year and gets his milestone and a nice smooth handover to Sam and go and have his time off and spend a lot more time with his family … He has bought a farm out in “whoop whoop” and he spends time out there. He wants to go out there with the family and just relax and not think football for a while. He is a bloke who is competitive and he loves football. No doubt him being at home for a month, (wife) Karen will tell him to get out and find something else to do. He can’t sit still. He has a bit to think about but that is in 18 months’ time when he finishes up at Hawthorn.
Q: A lot of people saying he is one of the all-time great coaches. How do you let it slip through your fingers after 18 years. They obviously see something in Sam Mitchell. What will make him a great coach?
A: With Sammy it is how he understands the game. He explains the game to people and understands what players are trying to do. When we were playing with him he took his centre-bounce clearances because he knew the set-up of the opposition and he studied it. He hasn’t just been a coach for the last three or four years. He has worked as being a coach for years. They see the potential and that is why they made the decision. We know that president Jeff Kennett has said in the past you can only be in charge of an organisation for a short period of time. He thinks that this has gone further than that when he employed ‘Clarko’ but ‘Clarko’ has been a great coach and wishing Sam good luck
when it happens.
Luke Dunstan continued his fantastic resurgence for the Saints tonight and he spoke to Channel Seven after the game…
Q: You’ve been outstanding in the last few weeks. You must be thrilled personally and after you have come back into this team after adversity at VFL level. Congratulations.
A: Thanks boys. It has been obviously just good firstly to crack back into the side. To play some of the footy as we have in the last three weeks has been pleasing.
Q: I noticed that your confrontational out there and get in the face of the opposition. Is that something that gets you into the contest early and energetic and into the game?
A: Not necessarily. It is not necessarily a focus. But sort of targeted over the last couple of weeks. Probably been a couple of guys I can get under the skin of and see what happens when they react. If I can win a couple of free kicks for us it is a win. For me it is about having my focus points and going to them.
Q: You have had a stint in the VFL and come back tonight and you couldn’t have played any better and generating so much for your team. What did Brett Ratten say when you went back. What did you need to work on?
A: There was probably a number of things. I just want to give a massive thanks to Jake Batchelor who was a coach at Sandringham and development coach. He gave me a lot of confidence to play how I want to play which is play on instinct and win the ball. I was able to get good form over four weeks and play high minutes and try to play over four quarters of footy. That was really pleasing
Q: How good was it to have Zak Jones back in the side and he ended up with 10 clearances and Brad Crouch and Jack Steele. Bringing Zak in he adds something different.
A: He adds a different dimension and he is explosive and he is good at cutting. To add another dimension to me and Crouchy and Steele. We have been getting good chemistry in the footy.
St Kilda have kept their finals aspirations alive, climbing to ninth on the ladder – equal on points to West Coast, but with a poor percentage – with a stunning upset of the Brisbane Lions, who also lost key forward Eric Hipwood to a suspected anterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee. Click here to read the full report.
Jack Steele was one of the Saints’ best players yet again with a game-high 32 disposals, 12 contested possessions, an equal game-high seven tackles, an equal game-high nine score involvements, six clearances, two goals and a goal assist and he spoke to Channel Seven after the game too…
Q: Jack that was a great win for you probably the best win for a long while?
A: The best win this year. After patches in the year where we haven’t rocked up in the fourth quarter. We were able to do that tonight and put it to bed
Q: Right from the start of the game you were intent and aggressive and Luke Dunstan was confrontational with the opposition.
A: Luke has been over the last couple of weeks, that has let the contest side of things and the pressure. He has been going to the opposition’s best mid which was Jarrod Lyons tonight and working from there. Really got us going and really good team performance.
Q: Talk about your evolution as a player. A few years back you were doing run-with roles and look at you – 30-plus possessions and a couple of goals and so consistent week in and week out. What was the change in your game? What was your change in your mindset?
A: I just want to be consistent. I want to be known as a consistent player when my career is all said and done. I suppose I’m pretty confident in the work that I put in and all the prep that I do leading into games and all that sort of stuff. Glad that it is all coming to fruition. Glad that we could walk away with four points and a good win.
Q: The last few weeks your defence has been outstanding and the mini-comeback. Webster and Wilkie I don’t want to leave Dougal Howard out. Those two, in particular, I think that they have been outstanding.
A: Absolutely. They are awesome what they are doing. It certainly does go unnoticed externally but internally they are getting praise and they are special people and doing a great job for us. It doesn’t go unnoticed.
Q: An interstate win against a top-four side as nice a feeling you get. You get a few hours to celebrate and relax? What can you do tonight?
A: I am not too sure. We will probably head back to the hotel and see what happens from there. Probably a quiet night. We are back early into Melbourne I think our flight is at 9:00. We have to get back and going to watch the VFL play. We are staying on Cavill Avenue which isn’t good but we will be right.
Here’s some more reaction to the Saints’ stunning upset over the Lions…