18 April, 2024
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Wounded Lions dismiss talk of bonding-trip ‘blow up’

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Harris Andrews is bracing for his sternest leadership test but insists there’s no internal tension, with the Brisbane Lions co-captain dismissing the impact of an off-season trip on their poor AFL start.

Last year’s grand finalists are 0-3 ahead of Friday’s Gather Round date with North Melbourne, and feeling the heat after reports a United States getaway that followed the club’s 2023 exertions sparked a dressing-room rift.

Andrews and Lions football boss Danny Daly on Monday fronted media to deny there had been a “crisis meeting” after the allegations were aired on Friday.

Daly labelled reporting of the incident “poor, insensitive and factually incorrect”.

 Danny Daly says reports of players falling out over a bonding trip are “insensitive and incorrect”. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS 

Saying he was blindsided by the accusations, Daly called co-captains Andrews and Lachie Neale to seek assurances there was no division within the playing group. 

He insisted no personal relationships had ended because of the trip.

“It’s been an interesting (Easter) from the club’s point of view,” he said.

“We reached out to our leaders and they reassured us … there is no story.

“I always trust our playing group, that’s where it finished.

“The trip has nothing to do with our on-field performance.

“This group has been through a lot of highs together and a lot of adversity together. We have full confidence in them.”

Andrews, who was holidaying in Europe while a small group of teammates went to the US in October and November, is confident the squad isn’t divided.

 Lions players go through their paces at training on Monday. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS 

“Never any tension at all,” he said. “There’s nothing to be stressed about.

“There’s been a massive blow up (externally) over the last couple of days but as a group we’re united, all in this together. (We) can’t control what other people say.

“I’m not walking around going, ‘Oh there’s players bickering’.

“We haven’t had the start we wanted and people go outside the box to think of reasons why we’ve started this way.”

Homegrown product Andrews and dual Brownlow Medal-winner Neale took over the captaincy last season and led the side to the grand final, remaining unbeaten at the Gabba all year.

 Harris Andrews has welcomed the challenge ahead after the Lions’ slow start to the AFL season. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS 

The Lions have been premiership threats since shooting from 15th in 2018 to finish the regular season second in 2019.

“It’s easy to be a leader when you’re winning a prelim and going off to a grand final,” Andrews said.

“Zero and three … we have some challenges at the moment and our ability to drag ourselves out of it is going to be a great challenge.

“I’m excited for it; I’ve got plenty of energy and confidence in this group.”

Neale didn’t train on Monday after injuring his ankle in the Lions’ 20-point loss to Collingwood last Thursday.

But Daly said scans had cleared him of any ligament damage and he is expected to face the Kangaroos, provided he participates in Wednesday’s main session.

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