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Lions nab four-time premiership defender as a free agent

Birchall 'very confident' he'll contribute at the Lions: Casley Player manager Shane Casley says former Hawthorn defender Grant Birchall expects to play for multiple seasons for Brisbane on Trade Radio

GRANT Birchall will chase a fifth flag at Brisbane in 2020, agreeing to a free agency move that will bring an end to his illustrious 248-game career with Hawthorn.

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The veteran defender had three offers on the table – from Brisbane, Hawthorn and Gold Coast – but has elected to move to the rapidly improving Lions next season.

Hawthorn will receive no compensation for losing Birchall.

Birchall, who will turn 32 in January, has dealt with a series of injuries recently that have restricted him to just eight games over the last three seasons.

He will replace his long-time veteran teammate Luke Hodge in the Brisbane defence.

"It happened reasonably quickly," he said.

"I'm excited to start something a bit different and get up there."

He's also looking forward to linking up with coach Chris Fagan, who spent time at Hawthorn as general manager of football.

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"He has done some really good things at the Lions over the last few years and they were really good to watch in 2019," he said.

"I’m looking forward to playing under him and hopefully helping the guys go the next step in 2020."

Despite his client's obvious link to Hodge and Fagan, Birchall's manager Shane Casley played down the influence of the former Hawks in his call to continue his career in Queensland.

"I don't think he spoke to Hodgey that much (before the decision), other than Hodgey telling Grant how good his body feels being up in the warmer climate and different environment," he told Telstra AFL Trade Radio.

"It certainly probably helped Grant in make a decision on what is best for his body over the next couple of years.

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"When we sat down a couple of months ago to work out where he was playing next year, and hopefully that was at Hawthorn, but if it wasn't, he identified Brisbane as a club that was on the rise and a club that he could potentially add some real value too.

"Hopefully he'll be a part of something special up there."

Like former teammates Hodge, Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis before him, Casley said Birchall leaves the Hawks with no ill-feeling towards coach Alastair Clarkson or the club.

"He would have loved to have played his whole career at Hawthorn, but we know where they're at and they couldn't give us a 100 per cent commitment," he said.

"When Brisbane offered that to us it was probably an easy decision, we had to think about what was best for Grant at the end of the day.

"He's going to have mixed emotions playing against them next year, but he won four premierships there, and he'll be going back for the next 20 or 30 years (to reunions) as a great of the club."

 

Casley said Birchall's one-year deal will be assessed after he's played some good footy, but despite his recent injury worries, the defender sees himself playing more than a single year in Brisbane.

"The plan is to go up there for two or three years and Grant certainly thinks he's got that amount of footy (left) in him, so he's very, very excited about the opportunity," he said.

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