BRISBANE Lions captain Tom Rockliff admits the players feel some responsibility for coach Justin Leppitsch's sacking and says he will stick by the embattled club in the final year of his contract next season.
Rockliff supported the club's decision to let the coach go after a woeful three-win campaign, but conceded the players felt partly to blame.
"I think you do a little bit," he told RSN radio.
"The players are the ones out there performing and trying to perform the game-plan, and unfortunately we weren't able to do that this season to the level that needed to get done.
"You absolutely take a little bit of responsibility for it."
Rockliff and senior teammates Dayne Zorko, Daniel Rich and Daniel Merrett presented to the Lions' board last week to outline where the season had gone wrong as part of a wide-ranging review that ultimately cost Leppitsch his job.
"They obviously wanted information on why we'd underperformed this year and so on. It was a pretty good process to go through," he said.
"I think there's a number of reasons. I think our development, we need to continue to improve that, we probably need an external leadership program to come in and help us out.
"Obviously we're a young group and when you've got so many young players out there playing, they're all just happy getting games, so it's hard buying into that team thing.
"But when you're an older bloke and you're a bit more settled, that's when you can buy into the team game and want the team to improve.
"So that was the challenge for us this year when you have nine or 10 kids who are just happy to be out there, it does become a challenge."
The Lions conceded more than 130 points per game in a tough campaign, and Rockliff said Leppitsch's attacking game-plan had unraveled as the year went on.
"I think the way we played this year was probably a little bit too much offence," he said.
"We got scored against heavily, but there was a number of factors and reasons why we didn't hit our straps. Injuries to key personnel didn't help that either."
Rockliff, who unsuccessfully tried to contact Leppitsch on Monday, called for the Lions to appoint a senior coach who could develop the talent on the list.
"I think we need someone that's going to educate the group and have a real strong focus on development," he said.
"We know where we're at, we're young, and the development is really important for us."
Despite his side's struggles, Rockliff kept his standards up and still averaged nearly 30 disposals, seven tackles and a goal per game.
The 26-year-old has been the subject of trade speculation as fruitless talks on a contract extension dragged on, but said he won't walk out on the club this off-season.
"I'm contracted next year. I'll be here."