AFL News: Lions lash out at ‘poor, insensitive, factually incorrect’ Vegas claims, Hawkins in strife for phone breach


Harris Andrews is bracing for his sternest leadership test but insists there’s no internal tension, with the Brisbane Lions co-captain dismissing the impact of an off-season trip on their poor AFL start.

Last year’s grand finalists are 0-3 ahead of Friday’s Gather Round date with North Melbourne, and feeling the heat after reports a United States getaway that followed the club’s 2023 exertions sparked a dressing-room rift.

Andrews and Lions football boss Danny Daly on Monday fronted media to deny there had been a “crisis meeting” after the allegations were aired on Friday.

Daly labelled reporting of the incident “poor, insensitive and factually incorrect”.

Saying he was blindsided by the accusations, Daly called co-captains Andrews and Lachie Neale to seek assurances there was no division within the playing group. 

He insisted no personal relationships had ended because of the trip to Las Vegas. “It’s been an interesting (Easter) from the club’s point of view,” he said.

“We reached out to our leaders and they reassured us … there is no story. I always trust our playing group, that’s where it finished. The trip has nothing to do with our on-field performance.

“This group has been through a lot of highs together and a lot of adversity together. We have full confidence in them.”

Brisbane Lions. (Photo by Albert Perez/AFL Photos via Getty Images )

Andrews, who was holidaying in Europe while a small group of teammates went to the US in October and November, is confident the squad isn’t divided.

“Never any tension at all,” he said. “There’s nothing to be stressed about.

“There’s been a massive blow up (externally) over the last couple of days but as a group we’re united, all in this together. (We) can’t control what other people say.

“I’m not walking around going, ‘Oh there’s players bickering’. We haven’t had the start we wanted and people go outside the box to think of reasons why we’ve started this way.”

“There’s plenty of work being put in by the coaches and playing group to get us back to our best.”

— Brisbane Lions (@brisbanelions) April 1, 2024

Homegrown product Andrews and dual Brownlow Medal-winner Neale took over the captaincy last season and led the side to the grand final, remaining unbeaten at the Gabba all year. The Lions have been premiership threats since shooting from 15th in 2018 to finish the regular season second in 2019.

“It’s easy to be a leader when you’re winning a prelim and going off to a grand final,” Andrews said. “Zero and three … we have some challenges at the moment and our ability to drag ourselves out of it is going to be a great challenge.

“I’m excited for it; I’ve got plenty of energy and confidence in this group.”

Neale didn’t train on Monday after injuring his ankle in the Lions’ 20-point loss to Collingwood last Thursday.

But Daly said scans had cleared him of any ligament damage and he is expected to face the Kangaroos, provided he participates in Wednesday’s main session.

Hawkins in spotlight over phone breach

Geelong veteran Tom Hawkins could face sanctions from the AFL after he was caught using his mobile phone in the dressing room during the controversial lightning delay on Monday.

All the players’ electronic devices are supposed to be locked away immediately before and during matches due to concerns about gambling and even though Hawkins was reportedly checking weather information, he could face a huge fine.

Collingwood duo Jeremy Howe and Jordan De Goey copped $20,000 fines three years ago when they used phones in the sheds to alert family members that they had been ruled out of the rest of a game.

Tomahawk hits 350 ????

— AFL (@AFL) April 1, 2024

Hawkins said after the win over Hawthorn that he and Jeremy Cameron had a coffee during the lengthy delay while there was lightning strikes.

The delay lasted 43 minutes before Geelong took down Hawthorn by 36 points in Hawkins’ 350th game.

The Cats were cruising with a six-goal advantage before players were told to leave the field just before the start of the final quarter in the traditional Easter Monday MCG fixture.

Play resumed at 6.11pm, past the match’s original scheduled finishing time, with Geelong doing enough in torrential rain to win 17.4 (106) to 10.10 (70) in front of 67,020 fans.

Power forward Hawkins was a valuable contributor in his milestone match, kicking two first-quarter goals and finishing with an equal game-high four.

Hawkins – who will become Geelong’s games record holder in six weeks – overtook recently-retired Richmond great Jack Riewoldt (787) to move to 13th for most goals kicked in VFL/AFL history.

Hawkins’ family and former Cats teammates packed out the club’s rooms after he was chaired from the ground by Jeremy Cameron and Mitch Duncan.

with AAP

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