Attitude and contest the key: Henriksen

BRISBANE finds itself back in an AFL Women’s Grand Final, after the heartache of falling one short of making the decider last season.

The Lions’ defensive coach Paul Henriksen says there was definitely fire in the belly after that Preliminary Final loss last season, but the fire and hunger was not based solely off that preliminary final loss.

“I think so,” he said. Obviously it’s a little bit different that we talk about last year but it’s this year and it’s two seasons in one year. I think that the short period of time, they probably didn’t get away from football.

“They got away for a little while but they still thought about that loss in the prelim to Melbourne down there at the ‘G, and it probably wasn’t long, and after a loss you like to get back into the game as quickly as you can, and sometimes it can be a long summer but for the seasons being in the one year, there wasn’t a lot of downtime. They were back into training and sort of going ok, let’s just keep it rolling.

“It was more trying to start the season well, and obviously coming up against Melbourne this week, there’s always that inkling of what, but there’s a couple of different players in each side, there’s a difference in set ups I suppose, and it’s just a different game being the Grand Final as opposed to the prelim.”

Speaking earlier this week, he said that the Lions girls are really excited to be back in another decider.

“I think they’re really excited. Let’s face it, that’s what you play footy for this time of the season. So they’re really looking forward to it, they’re really excited, new facilities’ ready to go so they had a good training session last night and they’ll train again on Thursday night. So they’re really excited, coming off obviously a good win against the Crows on Friday night, so yeah looking forward to it.”

He got an added bonus halfway through this season, with the return of Kate Lutkins to the defensive stocks from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Henriksen praised the attitude of Lutkins during her rehab, noting that was why she was able to get back playing so quickly.

“Kate’s attitude is a huge driving force, and I know there’s a difficult rehabilitation phase to it, but you always knew that Kate could physically start to get better, but the psychology around her, it was driving her,” he said.

“Her attitude off the field is very similar to the one you see on the field, we always thought that we’d get close and I reckon I spoke to her a couple of weeks ago, and I said ‘you know you’re doing things that are totally unheard of in the sporting industry?’ Like it really is.”

Henriksen said any pressure around Brisbane going all the way after the season they have had was all external and not coming from internal sources. He also noted that the team look a lot of learnings from their loss to Richmond, one of which was that they could not get away with what he described as “poor attitude”.

Henriksen believes the high standards Brisbane set for this season, even from preseason, is the key to how good their season has been thus far. He also believes attitude and contest is where tomorrow’s Grand Final will be won and lost, and the momentum swings are going to be critical in determining who ultimately comes out on top.

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