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O'Donnell joins Lions' coaching staff

19/10/2010 07:31:57 PM Comments (0)

New Brisbane Lions assistant coach Gary O'Donnell says he brings a level head to an AFL club that has endured a season of "turmoil".

O'Donnell's departure from Essendon for a second stint as an assistant at the Gabba is part of the "new broom" that has swept through Windy Hill following the appointment of James Hird as Essendon coach.

O'Donnell leaps from the frying pan into the fire, going from a difficult season at Essendon that included the sacking of coach Matthew Knights to Brisbane, where the Lions are desperate to returns to finals action after a disastrous 2010.

Off-field troubles involving forward Brendan Fevola made life tough for Lions coach Michael Voss, who took Brisbane to sixth in his debut season in 2009 then with the addition of Coleman Medallist Fevola, slid out of contention in 2010.

A post-season review by the Lions found Voss was coaching with one arm tied behind his back and there was an urgent need to bolster the coaching department.

O'Donnell says his role as "senior assistant" will be to support Voss and his coaching panel.

"Can I take a step back at times a little bit and question what we're doing and probe for answers and for better ways of doing things?," O'Donnell said on Tuesday.

"Hopefully my experience, my level-headedness I suppose, can help the footy club be better and keep improving."

An assistant coach to Leigh Matthews when the Lions won the 2001-02-03 premierships, O'Donnell returns to Brisbane after six years at Essendon, the club he once captained.

"It's an exciting time for myself. Yeah Michael J. Fox, `Back to the future'," O'Donnell joked.

"The club from afar has been in a little bit of turmoil but I think with new people coming into the club and the environment that Vossy is trying to create to get the best out of his playing group, all looks onwards and upwards for the club."

Other departures from Essendon's coaching staff include Scott Camporeale (Adelaide), Alan Richardson (Carlton), Ashley Prescott and Adrian Hickmott.

"The broom went straight through and good luck to James too," O'Donnell told SEN Radio.

"Success has followed him and hopefully it keeps doing that and the club can turn things around from the last year.

"The feeling was mutual. I'd been there six years.

"I think I had my time as an assistant there."

O'Donnell says his lack of ambition to be a senior coach should be an added comfort to Voss.

"I've had no senior coaching ambitions and I think that's what I bring to the table with Brisbane as well," said O'Donnell, 45.

"I'm quite experienced in the area and in the industry. But I'll come with no agendas.

"I'll be true to the senior coach. I'll be backing his philosophy and helping him be a better coach as well I would have thought and hopefully getting the best out of the playing group."

O'Donnell said Matthews would be "tickled pink" that Lions players Chris Scott (Geelong), Brad Scott (North Melbourne) and Voss would be coaching against each other next season.

"Leigh Matthews has done everything and now he's got players coming through," O'Donnell said.

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