THE BRISBANE Lions are playing "scared" and it's causing many of the problems that have them winless after four rounds, skipper Tom Rockliff says.
Rockliff returned from just two weeks out with broken ribs and a punctured lung to be greeted by a 53-point hiding at the hands of the Eagles at the Gabba.
The Lions are a young team and have been hit by a stack of injuries but Rockliff said he was tired of making excuses.
The only way out of the current slump, he added, was hard work.
"It's like we're scared to make a mistake," Rockliff said at a Monday morning recovery session.
"The two weeks I watched was like "we've got the option but we don't want to take it for some reason".
"We've got to get back to playing that free-flowing footy."
In the wake of Sunday's loss, coach Justin Leppitsch implored his team to continue taking the game on despite turnovers in the forward half leading directly to six West Coast goals by half-time.
"We can't go down playing conservative, old footy and kick to contest to contest to contest, because I don't think there's much solution in that either," Leppitsch said.
Rockliff was happy to wear some of the blame himself, describing his own performance as poor.
He said Leppitsch had reiterated to the players that they would not be chastised for making mistakes.
The Lions take on fellow winless rival Gold Coast on Saturday in what is now a desperate battle between the two Queensland teams to gain some momentum.
"I'm sick of the excuses that we give ourselves," Rockliff said.
"It's a really character-building time for us now and it's time to show a bit of character and show a bit of fighting spirit and the only way you do that is the way you attack the footy, the way you attack the opposition and it's a good opportunity this week.
"One win for a group, especially where we are, it builds momentum and you get that belief when you get the win.
"I know I'm sick of sitting down the bottom of the ladder and saying every year … giving this promise to our members and supporters that we're going to improve and go up the ladder.
"The talking's done for me. We need to improve as a group and it starts with me as captain of the footy club and works its way through the playing group."