Charlie Cameron reacts after missing a goal during Brisbane's loss to Collingwood in round three, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

LATE March into early April, 2024, has been an unusually publicly unstable time for the Brisbane Lions.

A dramatic form slump to open the season and a glaring focus on the fallout from an overseas holiday taken by a group of teammates has engulfed the club.

Questions are flying in from everywhere, from physical on-field form issues of big-name players, to the mental commitment required to deal with expectations attached to being a reigning Grand Finalist.


Coach Chris Fagan was right late last week when he argued there was no need to catastrophise the club's plight. Yet.

With 20 matches remaining, 86.96 per cent of the home-and-away season lies ahead – ample time to right the wrongs on display in the three losses that have opened the year, against Carlton, Fremantle and Collingwood.

Lions players leave the field after their loss to Collingwood in round three, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

North Melbourne awaits in game four of the season, so the ledger should hit 1-3, the same tally the club had in 2021 when it recovered sufficiently to finish in the top four.

It is worth noting, too, that last year marked the fifth of five consecutive seasons in which the Lions reached the finals under Fagan's watch.

No one at the club is dismissing the tardy 2024 start, but equally no one is conceding the season is a lost cause. Hard analysis is being performed.

What has emerged in some of those talks is a realisation that everyone attached to the club has endured a series of emotionally draining events which stretch back to July, when young gun Will Ashcroft ruptured an ACL and was ruled out of football for 12 months.

Key defender Marcus Adams was forced to retire on medical grounds a month later, a series of concussions ending his career.

Then there was being in front of Collingwood in the Grand Final with five minutes remaining, only to lose the game by four points.

The passing of long-time official Nicole Duncan, a person who held a very special place in the lives of dozens of Lions people, left the entire club shattered in January.

Keidean Coleman, a player touted to be the next big thing in 2024 after a stunning 2023 finals series including official votes in the Norm Smith Medal, was ruled out for the season – at half-time of the first game, after tearing his ACL. Several of Coleman's teammates were distressed when made aware of Coleman's situation in the main break of that match against Carlton, where they had led by 46 points before losing.


And then recruit Tom Doedee, days before he was to make his Lions debut, also broke down on the training track when for the third time in his career he sustained enough damage to a knee to require a reconstruction.

News of Doedee's latest shattering injury was relayed to Fagan just minutes after he had finished attending a highly charged and emotional mediation session in the Human Rights Commission over the allegations of racism – which he has always denied – delivered against him by former Hawthorn players.

While Fagan had spoken publicly of his desire to attend that session because it was to have allowed him a first formal opportunity to present his side of that story, from a football perspective it was far from ideal given the Lions were scheduled to play Collingwood a day later.

Lachie Neale and Chris Fagan after Brisbane's loss to Collingwood in round three, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Key people at the Lions are not looking for public excuses, nor are they seeking sympathy. But they are wondering if the accumulation of the stressful experiences has adversely impacted preparations for the new season.

There is never one reason for success or failure, always a combination of dozens. 

Compared with 2023, the Lions are down on several football metrics – kicking and goal accuracy, and missed marks are the main problems. Several key players are down, with only Lachie Neale maintaining something resembling his established very best form.

Charlie Cameron, Joe Daniher (who was good in the Lions' second match against the Dockers), Cam Rayner, Eric Hipwood and Brandon Starcevich are among those who know they have been inconsistent.


The Lions are adamant that player morale has not been adversely affected by behaviour of players on a holiday in the United States in the off-season. It is now known the club dealt with that matter upon the players' return and had not thought of it again until it was raised in the media on the day after the third loss of the season.

While it is a legitimate media item, it is also true that if the Lions had started 3-0 and not 0-3, it may not have ever been broadcast.

"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 said after the loss to Collingwood.

The Kangaroos at Norwood Oval on Friday in Gather Round loom next on Brisbane's 2024 fixture.

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Another loss there, though, against a team which has won just 12 matches in the past four seasons, and which has started this year with three more losses at a combined 121 points, and one or two more defeats in the subsequent stretch of games against Melbourne, Geelong and GWS, would be reason to catastrophise.

X: @barrettdamian