Matthews hints Lappin is nearing the end - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Matthews hints Lappin is nearing the end

By Drew Cratchley 18/08/2008 03:02:56 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane Lions coach Leigh Matthews has given the strongest hint yet the career of Nigel Lappin is over.

The triple-premiership winner has been sidelined for 17 weeks with a lingering Achilles tendon problem, which he again aggravated at training late last week.

The classy 32-year-old, Brisbane's oldest player, is off-contract at the end of the season.

During the Lions' win over the Western Bulldogs at the Gabba on Saturday he revealed he was contemplating his future away from the game after giving up hope of a return to the field this year.

The 279-match veteran said he would meet with Lions officials this week, but Matthews said he was yet to speak to Lappin.

"There's no appointment, but he might walk into my office any time I suppose," Matthews said.

While reluctant to speak about the midfielder's contract, Matthews admitted Lappin's long-injury layoff would not be favourable.

"At the moment we're getting towards decision time on all those issues," he said.

"We certainly love Nigel as a player, and obviously the question is we haven't been able to get Nigel as a player because his body hasn't quite been able to carry him."

Matthews has previously stated Lappin's playing career could extend beyond this season, but when asked about those comments, he chose to answer in past tense.

"We were hoping he could," Matthews said.

"This year hasn't given us much encouragement, but we were hoping he could because he's a sort of slightly built guy who doesn't seem to take a lot of work. (But) we're hypothesising and speculating."

If Lappin has played his last game for the Lions, Matthews sees a ready-made replacement in Bradd Dalziell.

A mature-age recruit picked up No.52 overall in the 2007 Draft, the 21-year-old has shined since making his AFL debut against West Coast in round 16.

He again stood up on Saturday against the Bulldogs, amassing 27 distributions and kicking his first goal, a remarkable effort from the boundary line as the Lions mounted their attack in the third quarter.

"He's doing a little bit of what Shaun Hart used to do, and Nigel Lappin used to do," Matthews said.

"When you watch him play a game he runs really hard. It'd be an interesting study just to watch him, how hard he runs, and it's a lesson to all our players to be honest.

"He's been incredible really, how he's just been linking up and getting to the right spot when we need someone to run into space. It's been a really good first month."

The Lions have no injury concerns ahead of Saturday's clash with Carlton.

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