Oct 9 2019

Lions set to interview Neil Craig

The Brisbane Lions will interview Melbourne caretaker coach and former Adelaide coach Neil Craig for the coaching position this week.

Craig and Hawthorn assistant Adam Simpson are understood to be among the candidates who will be spoken to in the next couple of days by the Lions, who are seeking a senior coach to replace Michael Voss.

Mark Harvey, who took over from Voss late in the season, has ruled himself out as a candidate for the Lions’ job.

Craig would be a major candidate for the Lions job in the event that the club looks for an experienced coach, with industry sources suggesting that the club will consider a younger coach working as an understudy and eventually taking over, if they decide upon an experienced coach.

Craig shapes as a major domino in Melbourne’s audacious play for Paul Roos, who is seeking to put together a ”ticket” – a coaching group that he feels he can work successfully with – for the Demons before accepting the job.

Craig is contracted to the Demons for 2014 on an estimated $400,000-plus. If the former Adelaide coach won a job at the Lions – as either senior coach or the experienced assistant in the Rodney Eade mould – the Demons would save a significant amount of money. Otherwise, they would have to consider paying him out, since it is unclear what role he would fill in the revamped football department at Melbourne.

The salary saved could be used on a prospective support team for Roos, who is expected to command a massive salary, speculated to be $1.5 million a year.

Sydney’s Irish pioneer and premiership player Tadhg Kennelly is understood to have been sounded out as a potential development coach, while Roos’ close friend and associate George Stone, an assistant at the Swans, is out of contract and is seen as a likely member of a Roos coaching panel at Melbourne should Roos confirm his appointment over the next week. It is unclear whether Kennelly, who has been working as an international talent coordinator for the AFL, is in a position to start immediately. But John Blakey, who worked under Roos in Sydney, is considered certain to remain with the Swans in 2014. Blakey is out of contract but has indicated a preference for staying.

Another Sydney assistant, Leigh Tudor, is expected to return to Victoria at season’s end. He is likely to be joining North Melbourne, rather than the Demons, despite the Paul Roos link.

Sydney wants its assistants to continue working with the club for the duration of the club’s finals campaign – the Swans, like most clubs in contention, are seeking to ensure that their premiership prospects aren’t hurt by the loss of assistants in September.

Craig, who worked as a senior lieutenant alongside Mark Neeld before Neeld’s sacking, coached the last 11 games of Melbourne’s season, and initially lifted the Demons’ performances, as they defeated the Bulldogs in round 14 and were more competitive against Sydney and Gold Coast. But the Demons fell away thereafter, as their lack of midfield quality and depth saw the pattern of heavy defeats resume.

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