JUSTIN Leppitsch has jumped to the defence of struggling Brisbane Lions midfielder Daniel Rich, saying he could do more to help his vice-captain.
Rich played poorly in Saturday night's 72-point loss to the Western Bulldogs, being restricted to just two first-half disposals, and 12 for the match.
It continued a poor run for the gifted West Australian, who has topped 20 disposals just once in his past six outings.
But Lions coach Leppitsch took some of the heat for Rich's struggles on Thursday, saying the club's horrific injury toll had meant the primary onballer had been moved all over the field.
"We've started him at half-back, lost Rocky (captain Tom Rockliff), put him through the midfield and a bit of half-forward, so we've mixed him around a bit," Leppitsch said.
"It's probably half the player, half us really.
"While he hasn't been at his best, I think there's some things we could do to settle him down a bit."
Rich played just three games in 2014 before rupturing his ACL and is still working his way back to full fitness, Leppitsch said.
"We need more out of him, and he knows that. He's not at his best, everyone knows that.
"It's for us to coach him through it, and him to mentally get through it as well.
"He needs to give everything he's got effort-wise.
"With Daniel in the midfield, he's trying to last out four quarters rather than give every contest his all.
"Sometimes when you're trying to do that, you don't really impact any contests because you're not at any.
"I think he realises when he plays his best football, he impacts contests, whether that's knocking players over or getting the ball himself."
Rich is not alone amongst experienced Lions who are not producing for the club at the moment.
Matthew Leuenberger has failed to have much impact as a key forward, while Dayne Zorko has been a long way short of the high standards he set in 2014.
The Lions, sitting in 17th place, face Adelaide at the Gabba this Saturday afternoon as they try to get their season back on track.