CALMING INFLUENCE: Chris Fagan is the favourite to take over as Brisbane Lions head coach.
CALMING INFLUENCE: Chris Fagan is the favourite to take over as Brisbane Lions head coach. Quinn Rooney

Coach of coaches poised to take Lions' share of work

DAVID Noble starts his job as Brisbane Lions General Manager of Football today.

One of his first acts will be to put a big tick alongside the name of Chris Fagan as the Lions' new senior coach - possibly as early as this week - with the Lions keen to get cracking on ushering in a new era.

Few Brisbane fans would have heard of either Noble or Fagan before a few weeks ago, but they will surely be the key figures in trying to resurrect their embattled club, or as Noble put it last week, make it "relevant again”.

Fagan may not even have his own Wikipedia page - after all, he never actually played a game in the VFL or AFL - but the Tasmanian football hall of famer has carved out one heck of an off-field resume at the elite level.

For all intents and purposes it appears he's another product off the Alastair Clarkson coaching assembly line at Hawthorn.

He has been Clarko's right-hand man since 2008 and part of those four premierships.

But, Fagan hasn't so much as read the book on what it takes to be a successful coach as much as helped write it.

He has been almost as big an influence on setting the standards at Waverley Park as Clarkson, initially as head of coaching and development and then General Manager - Football Operations.

One of his briefs was to help train the coaches, among them Luke Beveridge, Leon Cameron, Brendon Bolton, Adam Simpson, and Damien Hardwick, as well as his closest challenger to the Lions' gig, John Barker, and even Clarkson himself.

The 55-year-old has often been Clarkson's calming influence - and was actually the man to get between him and that enthusiastic Port Adelaide supporter last year.

Retired Lions defender Daniel Merrett summed it up recently when he said: "At first it sounded a little left field but I've only heard good things about him”.

Before joining the Hawks he spent a decade at Melbourne where he worked alongside Neale Daniher as reserves coach, assistant coach and then football boss.

Daniher said in 2014: "Finding Chris Fagan was the best recruiting decision I made in all my time at Melbourne. His work ethic, his people-management skills and his enthusiasm are unparalleled.

"And he was the cool head I needed, because I could get a bit feisty at times.”

When the Crows football boss, Noble was willing to take a punt on the experience of Phil Walsh, then 54, as senior coach at the end of 2014.

"One of the things which I think was really important, was assessing where the playing group was (at Adelaide), where the club was positioned, and the type of leader that we actually needed to bring to the football club,” Noble told Melbourne radio last week.

"I think that's part of understanding where your current list sits, so when you go to the interview list you know exactly what you're looking for; you're looking for a leader, a person with great standards, that can bring people together on a journey, I just think that's so important.”

Having played match-maker in getting the Lions and Noble together, AFL football operations boss Mark Evans has seemingly handed over Cupid's bow with it aimed straight at Fagan.

Evans, after all, was the man to hire him at the Hawks in 2008.


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