Birchall undecided on playing future

Four-time premiership player Grant Birchall is yet to decide whether he wants to play on in 2022.

After playing just eight AFL matches in his final three years at Hawthorn, the defender has been remarkably durable across two seasons at the Brisbane Lions, playing 16 of a possible 19 matches last season and 23 of 24 this year, a mainstay of a back line that finished in the top four both years.

Grant Birchall has proven extremely durable in two seasons at the Lions.Credit:AFL Photos

But at 33, and 13 games shy of the 300-game milestone, the Tasmanian is unsure if he will play next season should the Lions wish to keep him.

“Chatting to Birch this week about his plans. No decision as yet,” Birchall’s manager Shane Casley said on Sunday.

Birchall had 18 disposals in the Lions’ one-point semi-final loss to the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night, a defeat that consigned Chris Fagan’s side to a second straight-sets exit in three seasons.

However speaking after the match, Fagan defended his side’s recent finals record.

The dejected Lions after their loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday.Credit:Getty Images

“It’s terribly simplistic. We got beaten by three points in a semi-final two years ago, tonight we got beaten by a point,” Fagan said.

“We’re a whisker away from being in three preliminary finals in a row with a really young group. I can’t stop people from saying what they say, they’ll look at that record and go, it’s one win and five losses in finals.

“I don’t think we played well last week and I don’t think we played well in the preliminary final last year, but I think the other four finals we’ve played really well and could easily have won all of those games.”

The Lions lost a preliminary final to eventual premiers Richmond last season.

“We’ve got to live with our reputation and the only thing we can do is try and get back there next year and put that to bed,” Fagan said.

“We’re one of two teams that have finished in the top four at the end of the home-and-away season [for the last three years].

“We’re becoming a consistent footy club and you’ve got to keep just knocking on the door to find a way in and hopefully win a premiership at some point in time. There’s so much upside to our group because we’ve got a lot of young players that will only get better.”

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