Fagan milestone motivating Lions

Fittingly, Fagan will celebrate his milestone in his home state after the AFL moved Saturday’s North Melbourne-Lions battle from Marvel Stadium to Hobart’s Blundstone Arena due to border restrictions and fans being unable to attend matches in Melbourne.“(An) extra little bit of love for him in front of friends and family – it’d be great for him,” said veteran Lions defender and Fagan’s fellow Tasmanian Grant Birchall.“It’s a great story. Hopefully, we can put in a great performance for him.“He’s a really loved figure around the footy club, and it’d be great to get a result for him.”Birchall, a four-time premiership winner with Hawthorn, also spent time with Fagan at the Hawks when the Lions coach was “right-hand man” to master mentor Alastair Clarkson.“He was always a deep thinker, coming up with ideas, different strategies … and I’m just glad to see him be a senior coach. He always wanted to be a coach,” Birchall said.A premiership would be the ultimate reward for Fagan, who has turned the Lions from easybeats to flag contenders in his 4½ years at the club.“To transform the club after being at the bottom for such a long period of time, it would be an amazing story, but we can’t focus on that sort of stuff, we’ve got to focus on the small things,” Birchall said.“We’re well aware of what we need to do to really leapfrog in this second half of the year so we’re fresh and ready to go.”The Lions are fourth on the ladder with eight wins from 12 matches.“After being one (loss) and three (wins) to be eight and four at the halfway mark’s a pretty good effort, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Birchall said.And that starts with beating the last-placed Kangaroos, who are coached by the Lions’ former football manager David Noble.“He obviously knows us quite well,” Birchall said of Noble.“They’ve played really well in Tassie over the last five or six weeks, so it’s not going to be an easy game. They’ll be up for the challenge.”

Players slam ‘outdated and ignorant’ views

On Monday night Wilson said Saints players and fans had reason to be disappointed with Seb Ross and Tim Membrey after they missed their club’s narrow six-point loss to Adelaide on the weekend.Ross left to be with his partner, who gave birth to twins about five weeks ago, while Membrey skipped the clash in Cairns as his wife prepares to give birth shortly. Both players flew home after St Kilda’s defeat to Sydney at the SCG two weekends ago with the full support of the clubWilson said “there was no medical emergency” with regards to the players’ families, and even suggested senior players had been encouraged the pair to stay with the team.“It is a very odd situation when you have two leaders of the club, particularly one where the babies were born five or six weeks ago, to leave when this was probably their last shot at making finals,” Wilson said.“I think supporters and sponsors and members and other teammates would have every right to be a bit disappointed.”But Wilson found little support with her view slammed by most and the AFL Players Association chief, Paul Marsh, was particularly scathing. “I’m shocked these outdated & ignorant views still exist within the industry,” he posted on Twitter.“The players have, & will continue to support the industry throughout the uncertainty of Covid, but there are times when family comes first. This should be supported not questioned.”Former AFL champion Garry Lyon also said Wilson was out of line. “So, Caro is suggesting she knows better than the Ross family? I would suggest that’s a conversation she would not want to have with Seb Ross’ wife and/or mother or family members that she has in her opinion said there are no medical problems,” Lyon told SEN Breakfast on Tuesday.“How she can make a judgment on the family situation of a young mother with twins from afar and say, ‘Why didn’t they bow to peer pressure these blokes and stay?’“I’m almost speechless with this one. To think you can sit there on national television and speak for the family, ‘I must stress there is no medical problem’. Oh really Caro? You stress that do you? You would know, would you?”But Wilson was unapologetic despite the severe backlash. “I will not apologise for basically saying what I think is a perfectly reasonable conversation,” she the Don’t Shoot The Messenger podcast on Tuesday. “They have had so many issues like this, in the view of people at the footy club…I would even question whether Seb Ross will be at the footy club next year.“I think this is a legitimate story and a legitimate talking point.”

Hawks, Clippers pull even

Raphielle Johnson takes a look at Monday's doubleheader, in which both home teams picked up wins to even their respective series at two games apiece. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)