BRISBANE Lions ruckman Stefan Martin has backed his frustrated coach Justin Leppitsch and deflected the heat being felt by the struggling club on to himself and his teammates.
Martin said yesterday it was "on us to turn around" the form that has seen the Lions slump to five straight losses to start the season.
Leppitsch gave the most scathing assessment of his team following the capitulation to Gold Coast in last Saturday night's QClash at Metricon Stadium, saying the players didn't care about performances.
"Every player cares, but the way we played, it would have looked like we didn't care, and that's a fair enough statement," Martin said before a Lions' training session.
"Everyone's backing 'Leppa' in and it's on us to turn it around. Most of the improvement has to come with a bit of soul-searching, continued education, looking at your own footage and being honest.
"You can't pass the buck.
"I think we're going to get to the point where we're honest enough with ourselves that we don't make any excuses and we know we have to lift."
The Suns, who had lost all four of their games before storming to a 64-point win over their state rivals, had a brutally honest session last week, driven by the players.
The Lions will need to do the same, starting this week ahead of their round-six fixture at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium on Sunday against an equally embattled Carlton (1-4), which sits one place above them on the ladder.
"We probably don't have enough guys that are vocal and like that confrontation, but we're going to have to fast-track that so that we can improve as a group and get to the point where the great teams can confront each other and it's water off a duck's back, it's not personal," Martin said.
But Martin, one of the club's few shining lights this season, said it would also be important to keep the morale up among the young playing list and remind them of what they were capable of.
The Lions were 0-5 last season as well but finished with six wins from their last 13 outings, before becoming the only team to win all three games in the NAB Challenge.
"Obviously our confidence has taken a hit and it's going to take some positive thinking to get that back," Martin said. "We've got a good list, we've got good players and we showed that in patches last year.
"Something between the ears needs to change, and that can be changed, luckily, and that can change very quickly, more quickly than physical things can change."
Leppitsch yesterday apologised for grabbing mature-age rookie Zac O'Brien in the clubrooms during the club's NEAFL match last Saturday.
The incident stemmed from O'Brien having words with Lions reserves coach Shane Woewodin about not following instructions.
"What's happened is a couple of really passionate people have crossed the line and I've apologised to Zac," Leppitsch said in a statement on the Lions' website.
O'Brien himself added: "I overreacted on the bench, which I'm not happy about and very remorseful and regret it."