Lions coach Michael Voss.
Lions coach Michael Voss. Matt Roberts / Getty Images

Former AFL greats face mounting pressure in coaching roles

THEY were the most decorated players of their generation.

True greats of the game, they would each have more 'bling' than Mr T if they were to don all the medals they collected during their distinguished playing careers.

But, James Hird, Michael Voss and Nathan Buckley are all finding life as coaches a much more difficult proposition, with each experiencing incredible heat right now for different reasons.

Voss is in his fifth season at the helm of the club he captained for 10 years and led to three premierships, Brisbane. But it could very well be his last.

After the Lions won 14 games, including one final, in his first year as coach in 2009, they have added just 23 victories over the next 72 under him.

Most significantly, only two have come in 2013 - a year when the promising playing group Voss has compiled had won the NAB Cup and were then expected to vie for the finals of the season proper.

Though it had its chances to claim a major scalp in the West Coast at the Gabba on Saturday, Brisbane fell away badly in the final term to lose by 28 points.

The result left it with a 2-5 win-loss record, and with games against Essendon, Carlton, Collingwood, Fremantle, Geelong and Hawthorn to come.

With the prospect of his Lions being 2-11, speculation that Voss may not even see out the season has been mounting to the point the club felt compelled to issue a statement - just as the side was taking to the field against the Eagles.

In it, club chief executive Malcolm Holmes was adamant the club's "senior coaching position will not be reviewed until the end of the season".

Ironically, Voss will go head-to-head this Saturday against the man who he tied with in the 1996 Brownlow Medal count, James Hird, when Brisbane faces Essendon at Etihad Stadium.

The Bombers only suffered their first loss of the season last Friday, against Geelong.

Clearly it hasn't been their fantastic on-field performances in his third season in charge that has seen Hird under serious fire, but their controversial supplement program of 2012.

The joint Australian Sports Anti-Doing Agency-AFL investigation continues, and it remains to be seen whether Hird, as head coach, should eventually escape punishment for his part in the saga that has rocked the footy world.

Buckley, meanwhile, was left seething on Saturday night when his side was being blown off Patersons Stadium twice by an undermanned Fremantle.

The Magpies at one stage trailed 8-52, and after managing to fight back and hit the front, allowed the Dockers to kick the last four goals to run away with the win.

It left Buckley's side 4-3 and only just clinging to a spot in the top eight.

Taking over a side that had just won a flag (2010) and then finished runner-up (2011), Buckley must have thought there was a strong chance he may be able to achieve as coach the only thing he didn't as a player.

There is no question about Bucks' immediate future, but that elusive premiership certainly seems a long way off right now.

 

THREE CHAMPS

MICHAEL VOSS

Playing: 289 games; Captain 1997-2006. 5 B&Fs, 5 AA jumpers; 3 premierships; 1 Brownlow

Coaching: 97 games (37 wins)

NATHAN BUCKLEY

Playing: 280 games; Captain 1999-2007. 7 AA jumpers; 6 B&Fs; 1 Brownlow; 1 Norm Smith

Coaching: 32 games (21 wins)

JAMES HIRD

Playing: 253 games; Captain 1997-2005. 5 AA jumpers; 5 BFs; 2 premierships; 1 Brownlow; 1 Norm Smith

Coaching: 52 games (28 wins)


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