Photos emerge in Brisbane Lions WhatsApp group chat crisis

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New details about the photos accidentally leaked during the Brisbane Lions’ Las Vegas trip have emerged with the club now in crisis mode.

Football club figures have denied rumours there is a rift in the dressing room stemming from one group of players’ off-season trip to the United States in November.

Lions club leaders came together on Good Friday to hold crisis talks after it emerged a WhatsApp group chat, which detailed what the players were getting up to in the United States, was seen by one player’s partner.

The Herald Sun reported one of the players accidentally uploaded the group chat to iCloud on his Apple Phone, before it was accessed on a shared device by his partner back home.

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The player’s partner is then said to have shared the messages with other partners who became enraged with what was unfolding on the trip which ended in Las Vegas in November.

Further details emerged on Sunday with The Herald Sun describing the photos as “compromising”.

There is no suggestion those players pictured are responsible for any wrongdoing.

Lions board member and three-time premiership coach Leigh Matthews was on Sunday night asked if there is any potential rift within the playing group.

The football icon responded: “No. To my knowledge. Apart from this popping up on the weekend. I’m around the club occasionally and I’ve never had any feeling there is any kind of angst among the playing group or disunity or anything like that.

“Everyone I speak to around the club, they say, ‘Absolutely no way there’s any disunity’.

“It has nothing to do with the fact they’ve lost three games.”

Details surrounding what the messages said remain unclear, however, football journalist Caroline Wilson shared fresh information over the incident which saw players depart the end of season trip early.

The veteran journo also confirmed one key Lions player and his partner had called time on their relationship.

“Some photographs, nothing hugely incriminating, but some photographs that partners weren’t happy about might have accidentally been sent home,” Wilson said on 3AW.

“Some players went home early as a result of this and at least one key player and his partner have broken up.

“Whether that was purely because of what happened on the trip or not I don’t know.

“It is also true that some players were not happy that they might have been exposed.

“Danny Daly the head of footy at the Lions, as a result of the reporting and the rumours on Monday called Harris Andrews and he called Lachie Neale and he said ‘look you have to come clean with me is there anything in this? Is there a split in the playing group, are people blueing?’

“The two leaders vehemently denied this.”

Lions chief executive Greg Swann backed up the thoughts of the captains and said the off-field drama has nothing to do with their on-field performances.

“If the question is, ‘Is there a split in a group?’ Well, no there isn’t,” Swann told the Herald Sun.

“It’s just bulls***. There’s no split in the group. This was in November, by the way. It’s not the reason we’re going no good.”

AFL journalist Sam McClure however said it was causing headaches within the walls of the club and had led to “tough conversations” being held.

“From what people inside the club have told me, it’s certainly been a few headaches since the trip to America late last year between 10 players, a fair chunk of which were Brisbane players,” McClure said on 3AW

“It ended in Las Vegas and certain information got home to loved ones that didn’t go down too well.

“It’s caused rifts in some relationships. It’s caused other relationships to end between players and partners.

“There’s even suggestions put to me today that it has caused some tough conversations to be had between teammates as to what went on on that US trip.”

Lions coach Chris Fagan earlier said it’s wrong to “catastrophise” his side’s ordinary start to the season.

The Lions remain without a win after three games, with two of their defeats, including Thursday night’s 20-point loss to the Magpies, coming at the Gabba, where Brisbane went undefeated last season.

“We certainly haven’t had the start that we hoped for, and we’ve dropped two home games which has been very unusual for us over the last period of time, so we’ve got a bit of work to do to find ourselves,” Fagan admitted.

“It’s not a great start, but let’s not catastrophise it either, would be the way I’d look at it.

“We’re zero and three, and there’s 20 games to go.”

Fagan said he wouldn’t “press the panic button” with players that were down on form.

“Some of our players are not at their best at the moment. I can’t explain to you why, and that’s sport for you,” he said.

“Sometimes you go through form slumps … so we’ve got to keep working away with those guys.

“I’ve trusted them for a long time and they’ve delivered so I’m not going to jump off them just because we’ve lost three games in a row.

The Lions face the winless North Melbourne at Norwood Oval on Friday in Gather Round.

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