Leppitsch feels for Dew, who's taking knife to a gunfight
RICHMOND forwards coach Justin Leppitsch would gladly accommodate Gold Coast wantaway Tom Lynch in his premiership-winning attacking set-up next season.
But the one-time Brisbane mentor, and three-time premiership player, has sympathy for Stuart Dew, who is experiencing a baptism by fire in his first year at the helm of the floundering Suns.
Leppitsch likens the situation to his own when taking charge of the Lions in 2013 - just as future stars such as Elliot Yeo, Sam Docherty and Jared Polec were packing their bags. Dew arrived on the Gold Coast as former skipper Gary Ablett was departing for Geelong, 12 months after Jaeger O'Meara and Dion Prestia had left.
Lynch will be at a new club come the free agency and trade period in October, with the defending premier Richmond jostling with Collingwood and Hawthorn for the star key forward's services.
Alongside head coach Damien Hardwick, Leppitsch has masterminded a relatively small forward structure that is the envy of rivals clubs - one built on speed.
"If I had to coach him, I'm not going to complain, that's for sure," Leppitsch said.
"I think (Tigers fullback) Alex (Rance) was the only one who said it would be upsetting the apple cart. I don't think anyone else sees it like that.
"I think he would only help us, to be honest.
"Even when you're near the top of the ladder you've got to keep evolving. You can't keep rolling out the same team each year and expect the same result - it just doesn't work that way.
"You've got to keep reinvigorating the team."
Lynch, 25, has played 131 games and kicked 254 goals. An All-Australian jumper in 2016, when he booted 66 majors, highlighted his capabilities.
The Suns have had to cope without him for the majority of the 2018 season, due to a knee injury, and have won just one of their past 14 games.
Melbourne thrashed them by 96 points last week.
Leppitsch, who oversaw 14 wins from 66 games when coaching the Lions before his axing in 2016, said he felt for Dew and Carlton's Brendon Bolton.
"You've got to rock up every week, knowing you're taking a knife to a gunfight," he said ahead of the Suns' clash with the Tigers today.
"And it's not that you don't build the players up to think you're going to win. But sometimes you just look at the two teams on paper and know it's going to be a struggle.
"That was just the way it was for me.
"I don't know if Stuey's the same, but you know you're doing it for the long term.
"I get a bit of joy now watching the Lions. I know they haven't put all the wins on the board yet, but they're getting closer and closer, and a lot of those boys who are on that field I debuted.
"Player retention, that's the first step. Brisbane have stopped the rot there."
Under Leppitsch, the Lions stocked up on high-end draft talent such as Lewis Taylor, Darcy Gardiner, and Daniel McStay following the infamous walkout of the "Go-Home Five" in 2013.
"I thought all those boys could be long-term players," Leppitsch said.
"The first couple of years, they're doubting themselves, you're putting them out on the field... and you know they're not quite ready
"But it's good to see those guys as regular members now. They're taking the club forward," Leppitsch said.
Having played in three premierships with Brisbane and spurned offers to join St Kilda in 2000, Leppitsch remains emotionally attached to the Lions.
"I want Brisbane to have success," he said.
"It would actually feel worse if we went through all the pain of recruiting and playing young kids for it to never eventuate. That would feel even worse."