Brisbane Lions' telling move amid reported player fallout following grand final defeat

Lions players reportedly held 'tough conversations' with one another during a post-season Vegas trip.

The Brisbane Lions called in their player leadership group on Good Friday amid reports of a falling out between players stemming from numerous relationship breakdowns following a post-season Las Vegas trip. Brisbane chief executive Greg Swann confirmed Lions leadership members were summoned to discuss the fallout of the trip amid growing concerns at the club following a winless start to the 2024 AFL season.

It comes after Lions coach Chris Fagan admitted he had no obvious answers to their early-season struggles after being beaten by 20 points in Thursday's grand final replay with Collingwood - their second defeat in as many games as their traditional Gabba fortress this season. 3AW on Friday afternoon reported Lions insiders suggested that "certain information" from the players' end-of-season Las Vegas trip "got back to loved ones" and that it "didn't go down well".

Brisbane Lions players reportedly held
Brisbane Lions players reportedly held "tough conversations" with one another during a post-season Las Vegas trip. Image: Getty

The sources indicated that there had been a "few headaches" at the club as a result of the fallout from the trip that several Brisbane players attended. The Herald Sun reported a member of the travelling brigade had "accidentally uploaded a WhatsApp group chat to iCloud". The content was then read by that person's partner before being passed on to other wives and girlfriends.

Both 3AW and Herald Sun report that loved ones back home were unimpressed by "some of the wild antics being discussed in the group chat", which resulted in some Lions players splitting from their partners following the US trip. Following the reports Swann called the Lions group into the club on Good Friday after being unaware that the WhatsApp group chat had been uploaded and distributed.

However, following the meeting, he said he was convinced that the Vegas trip hadn't contributed to the team's 0-3 start to 2024 and believes the group unity is still strong. "If the question is, ‘Is there a split in a group?’ Well, no there isn’t," Swann told the Herald Sun.

"It's just bulls***. There’s no split in the group. This was in November, by the way. It’s not the reason we’re going no good. We’re not horrible, by the way. It’s just that a few of our good blokes are out of form. We asked all the leaders again today and they said, ‘No, there’s nothing in it at all’ in terms of a split in the group."

Leigh Matthews fears friction at the Brisbane Lions

Lions board member Leigh Matthews was on 3AW radio live when colleague Sam McClure first reported the story on Friday and said while he didn't have all the facts, potential friction between the playing group is deeply concerning. "It’s a little bit difficult for me because I only found out about this when you (McClure) mentioned this 10 minutes ago, so it’s not something I was aware of as a board member at the Lions. Whatever transpired is complete news to me," Matthews told 3AW.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 28: Jack Crisp of the Magpies celebrates a goal during the round three AFL match between Brisbane Lions and Collingwood Magpies at The Gabba, on March 28, 2024, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Brisbane chief executive Greg Swann said Lions leadership members were summoned to the club to discuss the fallout of the trip amid growing concerns at the club following a winless start to the 2024 season.

"But the principle of the thing, which is really what we’re talking about here, if there’s friction between players or partners of players behind the scenes, that’s not a good thing … ‘if’ is the big word."

Chris Fagan believes no need to panic amid early-season struggles

The Lions remain without a win after three games, with two of their defeats, including Thursday night’s 20-point loss to the Magpies, coming at the Gabba - where Brisbane went undefeated last season. But Fagan says there is no need to "catastrophise" his side's poor start to the season.

"We certainly haven’t had the start that we hoped for, and we’ve dropped two home games which has been very unusual for us over the last period of time, so we’ve got a bit of work to do to find ourselves," Fagan said. "It’s not a great start, but let’s not catastrophise it either, would be the way I’d look at it. We're zero and three, and there’s 20 games to go."


Fagan believes there is no need to "press the panic button", stating form slumps happen. "Some of our players are not at their best at the moment. I can’t explain to you why, and that’s sport for you," he said.

"Sometimes you go through form slumps … so we’ve got to keep working away with those guys. I’ve trusted them for a long time and they’ve delivered so I’m not going to jump off them just because we’ve lost three games in a row."

with AAP