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Holistic approach key to retaining talent

Ben Collins,  January 19, 2018 9:20 AM

 - Brisbane Lions

The Brisbane Lions' stunning turnaround in player retention has been built on "a holistic approach", Club CEO Greg Swann says.

In recent months the Lions have locked away young guns such as last year's No.1 draft pick Cameron Rayner, Hugh McCluggage, Jarrod Berry, Eric Hipwood, Harris Andrews and Ben Keays.

Swann was optimistic that the club might have cracked the code in terms of holding onto young talent.

"It's certainly been a battle for us," he told SEN radio on Friday.

"Certainly in the last couple of years, probably primarily since the season finished … Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage and now Cam Rayner re-signing, it's actually really positive.

"This group of young blokes haven't made a pact but they're pretty tight, and I think they're all looking to stick together and hopefully they're going to form the nucleus of what he hope's a pretty good team in the next few years."

Swann said the Lions had analysed their methods and made changes accordingly, particularly in the area of player welfare.

He said coach Chris Fagan and football manager David Noble had been critical to establishing a welcoming environment.

"It's a bit of a holistic approach," he said.

"With 'Fages' coming in as coach and Dave Noble … we've changed our welfare, even just the way we accommodate (players), where we put them, initially trying to match that up better, whether it's with families or other teammates.

"(We have been) bringing the families along probably closer as well, just for them to understand what's happening up here, so we have a lot of interaction with them.

"There's a whole lot of stuff that's happened and we actually challenged ourselves, because it's easy just to sit there and say, 'Oh, they keep going home', but that's because of the environment.

"So we had to change a lot of the things that we were doing and, touch wood, it looks like it's paying good dividends for us."