The Brisbane Lions have no place to go but up. Whether they actually secure Luke Hodges, the Hawthorn Hawks great that announced his retirement in the middle of the 2017 AFL season, remains to be seen, but it appears imminent that he will join the spooners for 2018 and reunite with his former coach and mentor Chris Fagan.
The deal is not absolutely done, but it seems as though there is a widespread belief that Hodges still has an urge to play on and that the Lions will play him somewhat sparingly and groom him into some role as a stabilising influence on the Lions’ young list.
The impetus for the Lions’ stalking of Hodges was a game that Fagan and Brisbane Chief Executive Greg Swan watched when the Hawks played the Crows at the Adelaide Oval. The Hawks won that game 96 – 82, but what really piqued the interest of Fagan and Swan (who, if the universe were properly configured, would work for Sydney), was the way Hodge was directing all aspects of the game, from instructing his teammates to lobbying the umpires. Hodge was wearing a microphone for the game and the two members of the Lions brass were awestruck over Hodges’ influence.
Swan told SEN, “We needed to get someone like that who would help our players on the ground and just have that calming influence and make sure everyone’s adhering to the game plan and all the things that happen on the ground, because in the heat of battle that’s sometimes difficult.The way he coached young (Blake) Hardwick and (James) Sicily and those kids that day was something we thought was a good thing.”
Hodge has been offered an official deal by Brisbane, reportedly for two years, but until the deal is over the line, much could happen, but the Lions’ playing group would be supremely chuffed if Hodge were to join them.