Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan was in Tasmanian promotion mode as he brought his charges to his home state for a fourth year running this week.
Watched by his mother and father at a training session at Kingston’s Twin Ovals, the Queenstown product talked up his state’s advantages, predicted healthy futures for veteran Mitch Robinson and fledgling coach Zane Littlejohn, heaped praise on the Tassie climate and reiterated his dream of it landing a stand-alone AFL team.
After two years staging pre-season in Launceston, Fagan anticipated a return trip to Kingston next year and even joked that Antarctica might have to be next for his bronzed Lions.
“We’ve had a fantastic four or five days here,” he said.
“We’re really happy with the venue, the surface is great, good size oval, perfect weather, we couldn’t have asked for more and the attitude of the players has been outstanding.
“Hobart’s a beautiful city to come to, a lot of the boys hadn’t been here before and they’ve really enjoyed their time here.
“Our pre-season goes for 20 weeks and for 19 of those we train in heat and humidity so it’s really nice from a recovery point of view for the boys to get into a cooler climate. Even though the weather’s been good here, it’s nowhere near as hot and humid as it is in Brisbane.
“A lot of Victorian teams go up there to train but they have one week out of 20, we have 19. I reckon there’s a cumulative effect of heat and humidity and we’ve just got to make sure we give our blokes a break.
“They certainly enjoy getting into a cooler climate and I’m pretty sure we’ll come back next year.”
The former Tassie Mariners coach reserved special praise for Littlejohn, the multiple North Launceston premiership coach who has slotted in on Fagan’s staff.
“He certainly has enthusiasm and application, you need to have persistence too if you haven’t been an AFL player. He’s made a good start to his career and we love having him around. He’s always trying to improve himself and has good relationships with the players. If he’s resilient enough, who knows what will happen.”