Brisbane legend Michael Voss has already been approached as a possible replacement for departing coach Leigh Matthews - and the West Coast Eagles have said they will not stand in his way. Matthews shocked the AFL when he announced his resignation from the Lions this morning, after a 10-year tenure that brought him and the club three premierships.
Voss, captain of Matthews' premiership side, was due to take up an assistant coaching role at West Coast in November - but now he's favoured to take over from Matthews.
Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett confirmed Voss had already been in touch with Brisbane and asked the Eagles for permission to negotiate with his former club. Nisbett said that permission had been granted and that West Cost would not stand in Voss' way if the Lions job was offered.
However, Brisbane chief executive Michael Bowers has refused to confirm or deny the report, saying the club was following due process in finding a successor.
Speaking on Ten News, Voss confirmed the Lions had approached him and admitted he was in a difficult situation after committing to the Eagles.
"They did enquire about what my position was with the West Coast Eagles. I rang the West Coast Eagles and asked for permission to speak to the Brisbane Lions should they deem the want an interview. We'll see where it goes from there," Voss said.
"They (West Coast) gave me permission to be able to go and do that. It's a difficult situation. It's an uncomfortable situation to be in. The fact that I've committed somewhere else. It's difficult." When asked if he wants to coach the Lions, Voss replied: "I think there needs to be more to go before I can possibly answer that." Sportingbet Australia have posted Voss as their $2.50 favourite ahead of Craig Lambert at $3. Sydney mentor Paul Roos is also a hot tip at $6.
Matthews this morning shocked the AFL community by quitting the club - on the same day co-captain Jonathan Brown announced he was staying.
Matthews said the time was right for him to move on after 10 years and 237 games in charge.
"It's just time for me to move on," Matthews told a press conference at the Gabba. "I want to leave a year early, not a year late."
Matthews informed Lions chairman Tony Kelly of his decision to resign yesterday afternoon.
Brown said he came to terms on a new contract with the Lions on the weekend, before he became aware of Matthews's decision to quit.
"It was a shock. We weren't expecting it. It's all happened pretty quickly," Brown said. "He's been a fantastic mentor and more importantly, a friend."
Matthews will remain with the club for the immediate future to help complete a full post-season review and list management process. This is expected to include overseeing the AFL draft and the appointment of a new coach.
While he confirmed he would continue to live in Queensland, Matthews said he was unsure where the next step in his career would take him.
"Leigh is at peace with his decision and leaves on his own terms," Kelly said. "I wish to publicly thank Leigh for being honest, straight-forward and reliable. He lives and breathes football and I know that will never stop. He loved his team and the players."
Matthews, 56, had a year to run on his current contract but had come under increasing pressure recently after the Lions under-achieved in 2008.
Brisbane finished a disappointing 10th on the ladder after limping home with just two wins from their last nine matches.
His senior players recently dismissed suggestions by former Lions coach Robert Walls that Matthews had become too old to move with the trends of the game, while there were persistent rumours a fall-out with Brown.
But despite Brisbane's form slide, Matthews' announcement this morning will come as a shock to most fans of the club.
Once voted the best Aussie rules player of the 20th century, Matthews has been a larger-than-life figure in AFL in Brisbane, with his iconic stature helping to establish the game in the growing South-East Queensland market.
Matthews was coaxed out of a three-year retirement to join the Lions in 1999, a year after they battled to the 1998 wooden spoon. His impact was immediate, lifting the club to fourth in his first year and making the finals once again in 2000.
In 2001, the Lions toppled Essendon in the first of their premiership triumphs, before beating Collingwood in 2002 and 2003.
A fourth consecutive premiership eluded the Lions after a grand final loss to Port Adelaide in 2004.
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