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New Lions era begins today

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Chris Fagan will need to hit the ground running after being officially announced as Brisbane’s new AFL coach.

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The former Hawthorn football chief has been confirmed as Justin Leppitsch’s successor.

With AFL free agency and trade periods looming, Fagan will need to make some big calls quickly, not least of which will be whether skipper Tom Rockliff and an out-of-sorts Pearce Hanley fit into his plans to rejuvenate the struggling club.

Rockliff has been linked with the Crows amid scuttlebutt about his future at the Lions, while Hanley is reported to be close to signing with Gold Coast.

Fagan is set to become the sixth current AFL coach to have worked with four-time Hawks premiership coach Alastair Clarkson.

He will join Western Bulldogs premiership coach Luke Beveridge, Richmond’s Damien Hardwick, Greater Western Sydney’s Leon Cameron, West Coast’s Adam Simpson and Carlton’s Brendon Bolton as active AFL coaches to have worked with Clarkson.

Fagan, 55, has been the frontrunner to replace Leppitsch since he was sacked following the club’s disastrous three-win season.

Blues assistant John Barker is also believed to have come under strong consideration.

Fagan has been with the Hawks since 2008, where he experienced premiership success on four occasions and worked alongside Mark Evans, who will have had some input into the Lions’ decision as the AFL’s football operations manager.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said in August this year that the league, which has already invested heavily in the cash-strapped Lions, would work with the struggling club to get the right people in key positions.

The AFL was instrumental in luring respected football operations manager David Noble from Adelaide to oversee Brisbane’s overhauled football department.

Fagan will take on a senior coaching role in the AFL for the first time and although he never played at the elite level, he is a well-respected figure in the industry who brings a wealth of experience and knowledge.

He was an assistant coach to Neale Daniher at Melbourne, where he also took on the role of football operations manager and has a strong coaching and playing background in his native Tasmania.

The five-person selection panel that oversaw the search for a new coach was led by Lions chief executive Greg Swann and included club great Simon Black, list manager Peter Schwab, psychology firm executive Matti Clements and Noble.

-AAP

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