Premiership-winning Lions coach sends stern message to Kennett

Triumphant Brisbane AFLW coach Craig Starcevich has a blunt message for Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett: Back off with the Hawks’ bid for a team in the league.

Starcevich, now a premiership coach after the Lions conquered Adelaide in the grand final at Adelaide Oval on Saturday, said the 14-team competition needed consolidating and there was no room for an immediate expansion.

He added the Lions had lost 16 players to other clubs and was not ready to revisit that pain just yet.

“If Jeff is banging the door down to give us a team, I’d say back off,” Starcevich said. “Where were you four years ago when we had to put in the initial application?

“Hold off, we need to get the competition strong and going really well.

“We have 16 players go to other clubs so we have done our bit to grow the competition. It is painful when it happens, now calm the farm for a little while and wait for a few years.”

Kennett’s Hawks are one of four AFL teams without an AFLW side.Source:Getty Images

The Lions were successful in subduing Crows superstar Erin Phillips, twice a grand final most valuable player.

However, Starcevich wants the medal for the best player in the grand final, won by Lions’ defender Kate Lutkins, to be named after Phillips in recognition of her impact on the league in its five years existence.

“Erin has had a massive input and her legacy should be acknowledged,” he said.

Starcevich also believes premiership glory will inspire young females to take up AFL in a city where the competition among sports was unrivalled in Australia.

As for the stunning defensive effort, the backbone of the Lions’ title victory, the intent to defend is ingrained in Queensland’s AFL players, according to Starcevich.

Lions captain Emma Zielke and Lauren Arnell announced their retirement after the win.

In response to his side’s domination of the inside 50 count, Crows coach Matthew Clarke heaped praise on the Lions defence, describing it as brilliant, and claimed the visitors commanded the air.

“They were clearly well deserving victors,” Clarke said. “We were beaten by the better team, they were very, very good.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s impossible not to be proud of the girls for what they put in to get into this position. But to not be able to take the opportunity you create is devastating for the players.

“To not take the opportunity when it presents is what hurts.”

Clarke admitted Phillips had been managing her body and issues with her knees since round 4, having continually pushed her body beyond its limits.

“She is such a competitor it is impossible to persuade her to stop doing that,” he said.

Crows acting captain Angela Foley, who left the game in the third quarter because of a knee problem, is to have scans.

Originally published asAFLW Lions coach to Kennett: ‘Back off’

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