Zane Littlejohn opens up about his new AFL role with Brisbane Lions

Zane Littlejohn will head to Brisbane to take up his new AFL development coaching role by early November.

Young and free: Coach Zane Littlejohn joins his North Launceston players for the national anthem before Saturday's State League grand final. Picture: Scott Gelston

Young and free: Coach Zane Littlejohn joins his North Launceston players for the national anthem before Saturday's State League grand final. Picture: Scott Gelston

Littlejohn was able to secure the position with the help of contacts at the AFL Coaches Association and flew to Brisbane for talks after the Northern Bombers round 19 clash against Launceston in early August.

“Greg Hutchinson passed my name on to Brisbane and from there I got a phone call from Justin Leppitsch and Matty Francis and before I knew it I was up there having a meeting two weeks later and was offered a position,” he said.

Littlejohn has signed a three-year contract with the football club independent of who the new Lions coach will be.

“I love to continue to learn and challenge myself and others to step outside our comfort zones and this is a new challenge for myself and my family.

“It is something we are really excited about and have worked hard for and it was always a goal of mine to try to get into the AFL system.”

Littlejohn said his role could change depending on the new coach but expects to be a skill development coach working with first-year players and getting them ready to play AFL football. On match days he will work with their reserves side in the NEAFL competition.

“It is about continuing to challenge myself and learn and get inside the four walls of the Brisbane Lions and what comes after my three years I don’t know – I just want to sink my teeth in and leave my mark there in a positive way.

“I want to be a listener and obviously try to provide something for them and leave a bit of myself with that footy club regardless of whether I do three years,10 years or 20 years.

“Let’s hope it can lead to something else – I would love to one day be in the Brendon Bolton situation but there is a lot of water to go under the bridge before any of that happens so I just want to focus on doing my role really well.”

Littlejohn said the Lions started pre-season training on November 7, which was when his contract started but it would ultimately depend on whoever was appointed senior coach when he wanted his staff in place.

He said he was proud of what he had been able to achieve as North Launceston coach – a club with a proud 120-year history.

“I am indebted to the club being senior coach for five years and having been here nine years all up which is nearly a third of my life. I owe them more than they owe me after giving me the opportunity to coach.

“If I could choose a club to bring my boy through to play his footy it would definitely be at this footy club.”

Littlejohn and wife Kat met at the club and are expecting their second child at the end of October, a sister for two-year-old son Boyd.

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